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This study was of an exploratory and descriptive nature, using a case study of the South Durban basin to demonstrate how media analysis, community discussions and internal and external evaluations of current practices in use by major industrial players in the basin has thus far failed to reach its full potential for effective disaster risk reduction. • Abstract • Introduction • Understanding the South Durban basin • Defining communication approaches • Disaster risk communication • Communication policy and strategy for disaster risk reduction • Communication policy • Communication strategy • Communication context within the South Durban basin • Public protective strategy • The South Durban on-site emergency plans • Engen oil refinery • Lessons to be learned • Umbogintwini industrial complex • The South Durban off-site emergency plan • Outcomes assessment • The role of social media in disaster management • Conclusion • Acknowledgements • Competing interests • Authors’ contributions • References The study examined how effective forms of communication are, or could be, impacting the more traditional forms of emergency and disaster management communication through the print and electronic media and how an integrated communication strategy involving all stakeholders could prove to be successful.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Therefore, in 1994, the South African government actively moved towards the disaster risk reduction paradigm (Republic of South Africa 2005:1) by resolving to: adopt a new developmental approach in line with global trends by integrating risk reduction methodologies into developmental initiatives to build resilience in households, communities and areas known to be at risk.
Whilst these industries are considered as having a positive economic impact, they contribute to several negative impacts in the area, including air and water pollution and poor health conditions in the neighbouring communities, exposing the residents to high risks in events of industrial accidents and malfunctions.
The many activities that contribute negatively to this situation in the South Durban basin are identified as two oil refineries, with a total processing capacity of approximately 250 million barrels of crude oil a day (supplying 60% of South Africa’s total fuel requirements), a paper mill with a processing capacity of 550 000 tons per annum, several bulk storage tank facilities which also store hazardous and toxic chemicals in bulk, approximately 300 other industries including the manufacture of chemicals, food and pharmaceutical products and the motor and allied industries (SDCEA 2008a).
(Le Roux 2013:2)disaster risk is increasingly of global concern and its impact and actions in one region can have an impact on risks in another, and vice versa.
This, compounded by increasing vulnerabilities related to changing demographic, technological and socio-economic conditions, unplanned urbanization, development within high-risk zones, under-development, environmental degradation, climate variability, climate change, geological hazards, competition for scarce resources, and the impact of epidemics such as HIV/AIDS, points to a future where disasters could increasingly threaten the world’s economy, and its population and the sustainable development of developing countries. 1)If the process of communication is difficult in our ordinary and daily lives, it is far more so in times of disaster.Although the South Durban basin is considered one of the economic hubs of South Africa, it also continues to be the ‘environmental and disaster management hotspot’ in South Africa (South Durban Community Environmental Alliance [SDCEA] 2008b:1).In particular, it has a unique spatial plan that has several heavy industries integrated with highly populated residential areas.Organisations often experience information meltdown during a disaster and this is effectively when management could decide to take total control of all information and only feed through what they consider important, necessary, or ‘safe’.Communication is therefore a dynamic process with a twofold purpose that can foster learning, positive change and empowerment.Department of Public Relations Management, Durban University of Technology, South Africa Correspondence to: Renitha Rampersad Postal address: PO Box 1334, Durban 4000, South Africa Dates: Received: Accepted: 01 Aug. South Africa, like many other developing countries, is constantly confronted by human-induced disasters. & Rampersad, R., 2014, ‘A revision of communication strategies for effective disaster risk reduction: A case study of the South Durban basin, Kwa Zulu-Natal, South Africa’, Jàmbá: Journal of Disaster Risk Studies 6(1), Art. Strongly emerging from this study was the finding that, as a result of these evaluations, new systems are now being planned to incorporate social media as an integral part of an overall communication strategy, which could have far-reaching implications for corporate communicators and strategic planners.It is a continuous process of coding, decoding and interpretation and a way of sharing objectives, attitudes, knowledge, information and opinions.It takes place in a social context and people take the roles of both source and recipient (Abarquez & Murshed 2004).Paul (2001) suggests that the rapid adoption of new media has led to a shift in how crisis management is practiced (also see Muralidharan et al. The above case augments how important effective and transparent disaster communication plans and practices are, especially to mitigate impacts on corporate reputation.In exploring this further, this article focuses on a study of the South Durban basin to demonstrate how media analysis, community discussions and internal and external evaluations of current practices in use by major industrial players in the basin has proved to be successful.