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Broken bridges over troubled waters: COVID-19 and the urban poor residing in Dinaweng informal settlement, Bloemfontein, South Africa.


Year published: 2022
Categories: Journal Article

Author / Authors:

  • Matamanda, A. R.
  • Dunn, M.
  • Nel, V.


South African Geographical Journal, 1–19. https://doi.org/10.1080/03736245.2022.2028669


The increasing informal urbanism in Africa exposes its residents to multiple shocks, including urban public health pandemics. South Africa is not an exception due to the squalid living conditions, lack of essential services and amenities, and overcrowding characterising informal settlements. We argue that such conditions compromise the liveability of the informal settlements and the wellbeing of the communities. The urban health inequality concept is used to analyse the risks and vulnerability of informal settlements to public health problems. This study uses the impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) to investigate the exposure of the urban poor in South Africa’s informal settlements to public health crises. This study is ethnographic and uses the case of Dinaweng informal settlement, Bloemfontein. Data was collected from secondary data sources triangulated with 60 in-depth interviews with household heads to enhance the validity of the findings. The study found that the poor in Dinaweng are disproportionately affected by disease pandemics that are exacerbated by the challenges in their daily lives characterised by their informal livelihoods. We conclude that informal settlements are complex spaces that require carefully considered strategies and responses for addressing pandemics such as COVID-19; otherwise, the residents in these settlements remain marginalised.


  • Journal Article