Working paper number: 445
Author: Nicola Wills
Unit: CSSR


Rodent infestation is a growing problem in many informal settlements within South Africa. This paper looks specifically at Khayelitsha Site C, where overcrowding and inefficient waste removal encourages rodent infestation, and many people resort to the use of ‘street pesticides’ in order to try to improve their circumstances. The majority of these pesticides come from vendors in the townships and are highly toxic. This poses a risk to the children of the community who may accidentally consume these poisonous substances. This paper uses survey data from the Khayelitsha Rodent Study (KRS) 2017-2018 to investigate whether the presence of a child younger than the school-going age decreases the likelihood of a household purchasing rodenticides. In attempting to answer this question, the analysis is presented in the form of a comprehensive review of the literature, probit regression models, and information provided by holding a focus group consisting of four women who participated in the KRS survey. The findings suggest that the presence of a young child does in fact decrease the probability that a household will purchase poison and that this finding remains robust to the inclusion of other potential determinants of rodenticide demand, including concerns about the connection between rats and witchcraft.

Publication file: wills.pdf