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The Human Dimension


Project Duration: Long Term

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The following are sections from Ugu Lwethu - Our Coast (Goble et al., 2014). Contributions are from a range of authors all of whom are credited per section.

Given that the coast of KZN provides a gateway to the world, a playground for leisure, and a primary zone for economic development, it is not surprising that there is a high demand for coastal resources and economic development opportunities. This is matched by growing resident and seasonal populations who utilise the coast and supporting infrastructure and services. Collectively these features create a basis for development that is  pivotal to the future economy of KZN.

Coastal Population

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KZN’s population has remained significantly higher than the other coastal provinces, with the population disproportionally skewed towards the coast so that 56% of the people reside within the five coastal districts. This places additional pressure on resources and ecosystem services.

Photo: Kierran Allen

Photo: ORI

Infrastructure and Utilities

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The coastal environment is vital for economic growth in KZN as it offers an array of tourist activities, fisheries resources, shipping services and real estate development potential. Therefore, critical to economic growth is the need for supporting infrastructure and utilities along the coast.

Maritime Transport and Harbours

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Two major commercial ports are located on the coast of KZN. The Port of Durban developed in the lagoon area commonly known as the Bay of Natal, and has been operating as a harbour for some 170 years. The Port of Richards Bay, situated approximately 87 nautical miles northeast of Durban (and 252 nautical miles southwest of Maputo), was developed from a virgin site on the Mhlatuze River delta in the 1970s. There are also vestiges of a former port development in Port Shepstone, at the mouth of the Mzimkhulu River, but commercial port operations in that area were shortlived, and the port was de-proclaimed in the early 1900s.

Photo: Kierren Allen

The Human Dimension PDF



University of KwaZulu Natal

Research Funders


Bronwyn Goble

Trevor Jones