School of Built Environment & Development Studies

Humanities Academics present research at 2018 World Social Science Forum

Mr Viloshin Govender and Dr Claudia Loggia seen with their research poster at the World Social Science Forum.
Mr Viloshin Govender and Dr Claudia Loggia seen with their research poster at the World Social Science Forum.

Academics from the School of Built Environment and Development Studies Dr Claudia Loggia and Mr Viloshin Govender recently presented a poster and a paper titled Co-producing spatial maps for risk management and disaster response in informal settlements in South Africa, at the World Social Science Forum held in Fukuoka, Japan.

The International Forum promoted multidisciplinary discussions and exchanges of ideas and research findings on the theme: ‘Security and Equality for Sustainable Futures’. The two academics, who are part of the ISUlabantu team, presented their work during a session that looked at involving communities in disaster response.

The study proposes the application of a hybrid methodology for mapping informal settlements, which combines drone imagery and collaborative mapping. Loggia and Govender have been working on developing this methodology since 2017 and have already tested it in three case studies in Durban.

‘The overarching aim of this study is to map and characterise vulnerability to natural hazards in informal settlements in South Africa. This new approach seeks to enhance community resilience and co-produce practical strategies for disaster management in spontaneous and unplanned settlements,’ said Loggia.

Their research argues that vulnerability and resilience can co-exist in informal settlements and it is fundamental to understand this collaborating with local dwellers.

The presentation stimulated a vigorous discussion on the importance of applying more inclusive, people-centric systems to empower local communities affected by natural disasters. All the participants agreed that resilience can start from awareness and local governments should support and empower communities for a more effective disaster response.

For more information about the ISUlabantu project, please visit

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