Although it is the poorest metropolitan area in South Africa, Durban has become a global leader in climate change adaptation. But informal neighborhoods and poverty undermine resilience and social cohesion. In this environment, Durban is actively exploring ways to adapt institutions, systems, and processes in order to facilitate integrated, innovative, and flexible planning. This approach can help build the foundation for a more resilient economy, government, and society.

At a Glance

Population: 2,837,000 (2009)

Mayor: James Nxumalo

Languages spoken: 

  • English (49.8%)
  • Zulu (33.1%)
  • Xhosa (5.9%)
  • Afrikaans (3.6%)
  • Other (7.6%)
Link to Durban in Google Maps

Durban's Resilience Milestones

  • 2009

  • Attacks on Informal Settlement - September 2009

    Attacks on an informal settlement in Durban claim two lives and destroy 30 shacks.

    Read More
  • 2011

  • Flooding Kills Durban Residents - November 2011

    A violent storm causes flooding and widespread damage, killing eight people when their homes collapsed.

    Read More
  • 2013

  • Cato Crest Homes Are Demolished - September 2013

    Home demolitions in the Cato Crest informal settlement in Durban lead to a mass political mobilization in protest.

    Read More
  • Heavy Rains and Floods - December 2013

    Heavy rains flood Durban's central business district, and police are dispatched to assist the public caught in the moving water.

    Read More

Resilience Challenges in the News

Read more about the challenges faced by Durban on the Resilience blog.

In Durban, a Neighborhood Builds a Just Path

Can Freeways Make a City More Resilient?

Durban Moves Its Slum-Dwellers Into Converted Office Buildings

Durban Finally Gains Ground in Its 100-Year Battle Against Sand

Hobbled By Apartheid-Era Planning, Durban Announces a Transit Transformation

Durban Loses a Third of Its Drinking Water Before It Reaches Its Destination


Resilience Around the World

Explore cities facing similar resilience challenges as Durban.


Image of Da Nang

Da Nang, Vietnam

Image of Melbourne

Melbourne, Australia

Image of Los Angeles

Los Angeles, United States

Image of El Paso

El Paso, United States



Image of Da Nang

Da Nang, Vietnam

Image of Mandalay

Mandalay, Myanmar

Image of Semarang

Semarang, Indonesia

Image of Melbourne

Melbourne, Australia

Image of Byblos

Byblos, Lebanon

Image of Rotterdam

Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Image of Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Image of Porto Alegre

Porto Alegre, Brazil

Image of Rome

Rome, Italy

Image of Vejle

Vejle, Denmark

Image of Quito

Quito, Ecuador

Image of Mexico City

Mexico City, Mexico

Image of Norfolk

Norfolk, United States

Image of Jacksonville

Jacksonville, United States

Image of Boulder

Boulder, United States

Image of New York City

New York City, United States

Image of Berkeley

Berkeley, United States

Image of El Paso

El Paso, United States

Image of Surat

Surat, India

Image of Bangkok

Bangkok, Thailand


Resource Scarcity

Image of Ramallah

Ramallah, West Bank

Image of Bristol

Bristol, United Kingdom

Image of Vejle

Vejle, Denmark

Image of El Paso

El Paso, United States


The resilience conversation on Durban

What is this best example of urban resilience you've seen—in this city or another?

Share your thoughts in the discussion on the right.