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Imizamo Yethu 2017

Building resilience from devastating wildfires

Exclusively from ‘SAFE’, this series of images from the frontline of one of South Africa’s largest fires captures the destruction caused to informal settlements - and highlights the skills needed to build resilience.

On 11 March 2017, one of the largest fires to have happened in a South African informal settlement ravaged through Imizamo Yethu, Cape Town. 15,000 people were displaced, and property was irreparably damaged.

The consequences of ‘mega-fires’ like Imizamo Yethu are devastating – but also preventable. South Africa lacks the necessary educational framework to produce skilled engineers that can make informal settlements more resilient to fires, and protect vulnerable communities from harm.

Lloyd’s Register Foundation has funded the Fire Engineering Education for Africa (FEEFA) at Stellenbosch University in South Africa to provide fire safety engineering courses for fire safety consultants – the first official degree programme of its kind in the African continent.

Imizamo Yethu 2017’ – one of ten works featured in ‘SAFE: A collection of works exploring a safer world’ – is a collection of images commissioned by Stellenbosch University that capture the mass of firefighters (some 170) on the frontline, who struggled to control the wildfire as it developed.

These images highlight the need to build capacity in informal settlements to increase resilience to these kinds of disasters, and remind us of the hugely important role that FEEFA play in training the next generation of fire safety experts in South Africa and beyond.

‘SAFE: A collection of works exploring a safer world’ was an exhibition celebrating the 10 year anniversary of Lloyd’s Register Foundation that took place at Somerset House in 2022. 

To explore ‘SAFE: A collection of works exploring a safer world’, visit our online exhibition.

To learn more about the Fire Engineering Education for Africa and how they’re making the world a safer, more sustainable place, visit the Lloyd’s Register Foundation website.

Curated by award-winning design agency Superflux.

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