South African Vulnerability Profile



South Africa faces increasing levels of disaster risk. It is exposed to a wide range of weather hazards, including drought, cyclones and severe storms that can trigger widespread hardship and devastation. In addition, South Africa’s extensive coastline and proximity to shipping routes present numerous marine and coastal threats. Similarly, our shared borders with six southern African neighbours present both natural and human-induced cross-boundary risks, as well as humanitarian assistance obligations in times of emergency.

In addition to these natural and human-induced threats and despite ongoing progress to extend essential services to poor urban and rural communities, large numbers of people live in conditions of chronic disaster vulnerability – in underserved, ecologically fragile or marginal areas – where they face recurrent natural and other threats that range from drought to repeated informal settlement fires.

Severe floods in Cape Town’s historically disadvantaged Cape Flats in June 1994 profiled the urgency for legislative reform in the field of disaster risk management, stimulating a consultative process which resulted in Green and White Papers on Disaster Management. These important discussion and policy documents afforded opportunity for consultation with multiple stakeholder groups and provided the platform for development of draft legislation in 2000 that was consistent with emerging international trends in disaster risk reduction.