A significant percentage of the urban population in most low- and middle-income countries live in informal settlements. Due to poor quality housing, dense settlement patterns and lack of risk reducing infrastructure, informal settlements are least prepared and at higher risk for climate change issues. Marginalized communities in settlements in the Cape Flats region of South Africa face a range of environmental hazards and risks including recurrent large-scale fires, localised flooding and inconsistent access to water. This paper presents findings from a household survey with 600 participants from three economically marginalized settlements in this region. The paper explores how different forms of capital come into play in the shaping of these experiences and responses and uses these to consider power structures and the creation of particular types of habitus amongst settlement residents. Results show that cultural (knowledge) capital is one of the most important capitals enabling resilience and adaptive capacities across all three sites. Findings show the complex interplay of forms of capital and the importance of recognizing ownership, control and power structures. Our findings also illustrate how repeated exposure to risk can shape a habitus of risk acceptance and a focus on coping rather than change. Insights from this study further enhance knowledge of community resilience that could potentially inform policy development and institutional disaster risk reduction strategies for climate change resilience of cities in low- and middle income countries.

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