Flood risk and sanitation service delivery in informal settlements under climate change: a case study of Cape Town, South Africa
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Informal settlements are home to 32 per cent of urban dwellers worldwide. Access to sanitation in these spaces is amongst the most pressing needs and contentious issues in cities in developing countries. Shack dwellers, or residents of informal settlements, regularly cope with flooding that reduces their access to basic services. Yet the impact of environmental risks, such as flooding and climate change, on urban service delivery is understudied. Using a case study approach, key informant interviews were conducted in Cape Town, South Africa with municipal staff, civil-society organizations, and local researchers. Opportunities for climate change adaptation in informal settlements were located within municipal service delivery and flood mitigation strategies. Six major themes emerged: the need for an integrated approach to urban service delivery; the social and human factors which undermine technical interventions; the reality of trade-offs in complex environments such as informal settlements; the role of experimentation and collaboration in creating opportunities for building trust between stakeholders and bridging knowledge gaps; the limitations of formal planning tools in informal spaces; and the need to theorize cities from the reality of urban spaces in the global South.