The Poverty Reduction Co-benefits of Climate Change-Related Projects in eThekwini Municipality, South Africa

  • Andrew Emmanuel OkemEmail author
  • Sarah Bracking


This study examined 13 purposively selected climate change projects in eThekwini Municipality to determine their poverty reduction potentials (or the lack thereof). The study builds on the document analysis of the poverty reduction co-benefits of 104 climate change projects in the Municipality. Using a qualitative approach, interviews (15 with municipal staff and 14 with experts) and 18 focus group discussions with project beneficiaries were used with purposively selected participants for data collection. Findings of the study revealed that all the projects assessed have poverty reduction co-benefits (although this varied across projects). The study found several challenges associated with the projects including concerns about short-term contracts, dissatisfaction with salaries, and insufficient work gear that exposes workers to health risks. Those employed under the project expressed a preference for greater involvement of the municipality in the management of the projects. Considering the poverty reduction co-benefits of the climate change projects, the study recommends a move beyond a project-based approach to institutionalising climate change to provide permanent employment. There is also a need to emphasise the multiple dimensions of poverty reduction in project design beyond job creation. Furthermore, the experiences of climate change in eThekwini Municipality provide a model that can be adopted and contextualised by other local government authorities particularly in the global south.


Adaptation Climate change Co-benefits Mitigation Poverty 



Community-based adaptation


Ecosystem-based adaptation


Focus group discussion


Greenhouse gas


Invasive alien species


Poverty reduction potentials



This work is based on the report of a research supported by the South African Research Chairs Initiative of the Department of Science and Technology and National Research Foundation (DST/NRF) of South Africa (Grant No. 71220 held by Professor Sarah Bracking). The work was also produced with the assistance of the Programme to Support Pro-Poor Policy Development (PSPPD Phase II) a Partnership between the Presidency, the Republic of South Africa and the European Union under the project Addressing the Poverty and Inequality Challenge, grant for Climate Change Adaptation and Poverty Reduction co-benefits: human capabilities toward green micro-enterprise. The contents of this work are the sole responsibility of the authors and can in no way be taken to reflect neither the views of the European Union nor the National Research Foundation. The contribution of the project leader, Sarah Bracking, and the project team members, Mvuselelo Ngcoya and Kathleen, Stephen Olivier, Siyabonga Ntombela, Phindile Ngubane, Mandy Lombo, Smanga Mkhwanazi, Ntando Ninela, Nokubonga Shezi, Ayanda Tshabalala and Bahle Mazeka, is hereby acknowledged. The overall methodology referred to here was collectively pursued and may be referred to elsewhere in publications by other project participants. The overall research design was the work of Prof Sarah Bracking as Principal Investigator of the PSPPD Grant and holder of the SARCHi Chair while Andrew Emmanuel Okem was the report writer and Senior Research Officer.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Life SciencesUniversity of KwaZulu-NatalDurbanSouth Africa
  2. 2.Department of GeographyKing’s College LondonLondonUK

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