South African urban imaginaries: cases from Johannesburg
GCRO Research Report 13 reflects on South African urban imaginaries using a series of cases from Johannesburg that illustrate the interactions between urban imaginaries and the material city. These cases include: the depiction of central business districts in film as spaces of aspiration; the way in which the imaginaries of developers in Hillbrow were shaped by the lives of those living there; the imaginaries of Alexandra Renewal Project practitioners; the way in which residents of Brixton understand diversity; and the construction of two new bridges across the M1 to better connect Sandton and Alexandra.
Date of publication:
Linked to project(s):Spatial imaginaries (2022)
In pursuit of just sustainability
The GCRO’s 12th Research Report, In pursuit of just sustainability, presents empirical case study research from a range of sectors, perspectives and approaches to advance just sustainability theory and inform practice. The report sets out to examine the interactions between social justice and environmental sustainability using the Gauteng City-Region as the case study context. This collection of case studies furthers the discourse on just sustainability and demonstrates that while a crucial objective, building environmentally sustainable and socially just societies is neither simple nor straightforward.
Date of publication:
Linked to project(s):Just sustainability transitions
Towards applying a green infrastructure approach in the GCR
In recent weeks, the Gauteng City-Region (GCR) has experienced heatwaves, raising renewed concerns over water security, as well as heavy and persistent rains, leading to severe flooding in some areas. In this context of heightened climate variability, thinking about ways to redesign our urban areas with more sustainable infrastructure solutions is becoming more and more important. Green infrastructure (GI) is emerging as an alternative approach to traditional (‘grey’) infrastructure in urban planning and development. Its emergence can be understood in terms of the growing demand for infrastructure and services, increased concerns over natural resource constraints and climate change, and the negative impacts associated with traditional approaches to designing and building cities. It has been proposed that GI can provide the same services as traditional infrastructure at a similar capital cost, while also providing a range of additional benefits.
However, despite greater policy interest in green infrastructure in recent years, traditional infrastructure solutions to urban problems continue to dominate. This is partly due to the lack of a systematic evidence base to support GI implementation. There have been calls from decision-makers for more concrete examples of the benefits of successful urban GI applications, as well as for practical guidelines on their implementation.
Towards applying a green infrastructure approach in the Gauteng City-Region is the GCRO’s eleventh Research Report. This report builds on the findings of two previous green infrastructure reports, as well as a CityLab process run with academics and government officials between 2014 and 2016. These outputs and the CityLab discussions highlighted as critical the need to for a deeper evidence base in building support for, and enhancing investment in, the GI approach.
Unlike the earlier studies which were more theoretically grounded and policy oriented, this report comprises a number of technical investigations that more practically reflect on how a GI approach could be incorporated into urban planning in the GCR, and in other similar urban contexts.
The report consists of six chapters:
Chapter 1: Introduction and overview, by Christina Culwick, provides an overview and rationale for the report, situating it within the context of GCRO’s long standing Green Assets and Infrastructure Project.
Chapter 2: Mapping the inequity of green assets in Gauteng, by Samkelisiwe Khanyile, re-engages with the mapping of GI in the Gauteng City-Region that was a core feature of the first GCRO green infrastructure report in 2013. The mapping explores inequities in green assets and infrastructure through three different lenses, namely: (i) the distribution of green assets across the region; (ii) the proximity and accessibility of parks in Johannesburg; and (iii) the apparent degradation of Gauteng’s wetlands over time.
Chapter 3: Sustainable urban drainage systems for informal settlements, by Anne Fitchett, Lerato Monama and Jennifer van den Bussche, investigates the potential for sustainable urban drainage systems (SUDS) in addressing inadequate stormwater infrastructure in informal settlements. The chapter graphically illustrates a range of practical, low-cost GI solutions that could be applied in an informal settlement context.
Chapter 4: Green infrastructure stormwater solutions for Diepsloot, Johannesburg, by Anne Fitchett, Lerato Monama and Jennifer van den Bussche, focuses on these researchers’ experience in working with community organisations to apply a range of GI solutions in Diepsloot, an informal settlement in Johannesburg. The analysis draws out important learnings both in terms of the process of, and results from, implementing this local GI experiment.
Chapter 5: Atlas Spruit flood relief scheme: costs and benefits, by Stuart Dunsmore, Raishan Naidu and Marco Vieira, reflects on the results of the Atlas Spruit flood relief scheme, which saw the design of an artificial wetland to address stormwater challenges in a typical suburban setting in Ekurhuleni. The analysis weighs the costs and benefits of the GI approach actually taken, relative to the more conventional ‘grey infrastructure’ engineering solution that would have called for the construction of concrete drainage channels.
Chapter 6: Developing a ‘green asset registry’ to guide green infrastructure planning, by Gillian Sykes, investigates how GI could potentially be incorporated into traditional local government asset registries as an important way to see the value of GI recognised by municipal engineers and financial managers.
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Social cohesion in Gauteng
Increasing attacks on foreigners, including in April 2015, along with a succession of widely publicised incidents of racism, have triggered a new round of soul-searching in South Africa. Why, after the comprehensive defeat of apartheid and its ideology, does prejudice seem so intractable? What kinds of interventions could help reduce these troubling events? How can society be made more ‘cohesive’?
Suggestions about what to do in the face of these challenges are sometimes speculative and wishful. They consist of appeals to the better nature of ordinary people, or an assumption that the feel good moments of the democratic transition can be re-enacted to bind everyone together. Calls for social cohesion and tolerance seem often to dodge the complex vicious cycles that lead to the instances of intolerance that erupt in the media or in communities.
This Research Report centres on better understanding the current dynamics of social cohesion in Gauteng. It tackles five guiding questions, each of which corresponds to a chapter:
- How has social cohesion become a goal in post-apartheid South Africa, and what are the key limitations resulting from this understanding of social progress?
- In a global context, how is social cohesion defined and what are the main contestations about this ideal of social change?
- How do the respondents in the GCRO's Quality of Life IV (2015/16) survey respond to questions on levels of trust, claims to belonging by different race groups, and the place of migrants and gays and lesbians in Gauteng?
- How have past and present initiatives to improve social cohesion conceived of the problem they are attempting to address, and what is their scale of intervention?
- What are the various methodologies that have been used in past and present initiatives to improve social cohesion?
A key premise of this research was that our society has an enormous accumulation of experience in trying to tackle anti-social interactions and to address social injustices that are, in various ways, shaped by race, class, nationality, gender, sexuality and other identities. The last two chapters of this report are based on a review of more than 60 social cohesion initiatives. They analyse the wide variety of actors involved in such work, the different ways in which they conceive of their objectives, and the different scales at which they operate. These actors pursue dozens of different methodologies including sports and dialogue, arts, psychology, urban design, and public campaigns. This dispersed capacity through society is important because it represents experience-based responses to the ways in which anti-social behaviour and social injustice are reproduced. In attempting to determine a programme of action, we argue that we should learn from and extend existing and past attempts to tackle these difficulties.
Date of publication:
Linked to project(s):Social cohesion policy support (2019)
Poverty and inequality in the Gauteng City-Region
Poverty and inequality are legacies of apartheid that are proving intractable to deal with, in spite of a high level of policy concern with the two challenges, and many attempts by the post-apartheid government to eradicate poverty and reduce inequality. Why do poverty and inequality continue to be major developmental challenges in South Africa? To what extent have government efforts since 1994 contributed towards reducing poverty and inequality? With a view to knowing what provincial and local government could do to better address the issues, how do we understand the local spatial variation in those factors that constitute poverty and inequality? This major Research Report attempts to answer these questions with a focus on Gauteng, highlighting patterns, drivers and changes over time. The Report consists of three parts.
Part 1 gives an analysis of poverty and inequality from an income and expenditure perspective. The paper has two main objectives. First, it aims to provide an overview of changes in poverty and income inequality in Gauteng for the 15-year period between 1995 and 2010 as well as a critical analysis of the relationship between economic growth, poverty and inequality over this period. Second, it seeks to assess the impact of government provided social grants on income inequality and poverty in the province. The analysis utilises data on income and expenditure from Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) Income and Expenditure Surveys for 1995, 2000, 2005 and 2010. In order to ensure comparability between the respective surveys, adjusted cross-entropy weights were applied.
Part 2 focuses on inequalities in the labour market over the period 1995-2012 using data from Stats SA's Labour Force Survey and the Quarterly Labour Force Survey. Important variables considered include race, gender and education. Particular attention is given to how these characteristics result in segmentation and discrimination in the labour market, ultimately generating income inequalities.
Part 3 uses the GCRO's Quality of Life Survey (QoL) data for 2011 and 2013 to generate a Multidimensional Poverty Index for Gauteng (GMPI). The index was developed along the same lines as the South African Multidimensional Poverty Index (SAMPI) by Stats SA and follows the Alkire-Foster method of multidimensional poverty analysis. Since 2013 QoL data can be disaggregated down to ward level, the authors were able to map results by ward and thereby show spatial variations in multidimensional poverty across the province. Small area analyses such as this provide invaluable insights that should help provincial and local government to target areas with the most need
Date of publication:
Linked to project(s):Understanding poverty and inequality in the GCR (2018)
Taking Streets Seriously
In many parts of Gauteng, streets are congested with cars, trucks, minibus taxis, pedestrians, and informal traders. In other parts, streets are quiet, underutilised and frequently underserviced. The surface quality of the city-region’s streets varies widely – from the engineering marvel of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project to those (relatively few) remaining gravel or dirt roads. Besides these contrasts, there are many other degrees of quality by which Gauteng’s streets vary.
In some parts of Gauteng, streets have become privatised or heavily securitised. The phenomenon of ‘gated’ communities either manifests as enclosed streets within private estates or as closed-off existing public-road networks in older suburban areas. Some streets are patrolled by security guards, lined with high walls and electric fences, and surveyed by CCTV cameras.
In busy areas, informal traders sell their wares on the pavement or at traffic lights, adding to the congestion on narrow sidewalks. These activities are subject to varying levels of control and police harassment, where by-laws dictating the use of roads and pavements are haphazardly enforced, with trading goods or café tables randomly confiscated across the city. And, like many other features of the urban environment, the quality of Gauteng’s streets is highly uneven.
This Research Report, ‘Taking Streets Seriously’, interrogates how what is considered good urban design and liveability of streets may shift in different contexts. Through a series of case studies it attempts to understand the various logics at play in Gauteng’s streets – not only the logics of their designers, builders or managers, but also of those who inhabit, use, or otherwise interact with them.
The studies unearthed a complex interplay of actors on Gauteng streets, with street users, property owners and the state each operating according to their own, diverse agendas, contingent on the particular street in question. The result is streets that are chaotic, contested, and changing over time.
It is fair to say that, with only a few exceptions, Gauteng’s streets were and continue to be designed with hostility or a studied disregard towards anyone not behind a steering wheel. Yet despite the dominance of cars, pedestrian activities do proliferate. While indubitably car-centric, they are nonetheless sites of diverse and vibrant 'non-motorised' life. This vibrancy is no thanks to those who constructed and now control our streets. Non-car users have only made their mark by contesting the territory of the street using a variety of tactics.
With this Research Report, we hope to prompt a re-imagination of our streets, not least as streets rather than roads, but also as public spaces. Streets comprise by far the majority of public space in contemporary Gauteng, where other forms, such as plazas and parks, are woefully inadequate. Streets taken seriously – not by users, who have little choice, but by their designers, planners, and managers – have enormous potential to enable and encourage public life in Gauteng’s cities. Conversely, streets that are poorly made or neglected outright can constrain both the society and economy of a city.
Ultimately, we hope to correct an official urban discourse that overlooks the many uses to which streets are and could be put. In a time of enormous excitement and corresponding investment in our cities, we would like to see some of both these factors directed towards the (re)development of our streets.
The report comprises eight chapters and four reflections:
- Chapter 1. Streets as public spaces, by Jesse Harber and Alexandra Parker
- Reflection A. Streets as spaces for connection and memory, by Rehana Moosajee
- Chapter 2. The (in)Complete Streets of Emfuleni, by Kate Joseph
- Chapter 3. A research-based case study of Solomon Mahlangu Road, by Siegwalt U Küsel
- Reflection B. Princess Place, by Guy Trangoš
- Chapter 4. The conception and contestation of public space in Johannesburg suburbia, by Alexandra Parker
- Chapter 5. Context and utility cycling: The case of Springs in comparison to Johannesburg, by Njogu Morgan
- Reflection C. Why optimism is still an option: The battle for road space equity, by Gail Jennings and Guy Davies
- Chapter 6. Exploring high streets in suburban Johannesburg, by Tatum Kok
- Chapter 7. Contestations of street trading on De Villiers Street, by Mamokete Matjomane
- Reflection D. Open Streets Cape Town, by Rory Williams
- Chapter 8. Quiet encroachments on Braamfontein: A photo-essay, by Jesse Harber
Date of publication:
Linked to project(s):Taking streets seriously (2018)
Mining landscapes of the Gauteng City-Region
The extraction of gold along the Witwatersrand mining belt has fundamentally shaped the Gauteng City-Region (GCR) over more than a century. Mining in the region occurred across a vast area. The Witwatersrand basin is made up of three sub-basins – the West’, ‘Central’ and ‘East’ Rand – and stretches across a further seven distinct gold mining areas. These goldfields attracted prospectors, industrialists and work-seekers from across South Africa and around the world. They were responsible for the formation of Johannesburg and, over time, the development of large parts of the extended metropolis around it. For many years, gold mining produced immense wealth for mining companies, banks and residents – indeed the wealth extracted fired the entire South African economy. But there have been negatives. Gold mining also spawned a war, entrenched deep social divides, instilled exploitative labour practices, and devastated the natural environment. Though the industry is now in decline, the landscapes affected by mining are still identifiable by toxic scars that traverse the city-region.
This Research Report, GCRO’s seventh, considers how the legacies of mining have been imprinted on the towns and cities of the Gauteng City-Region. The report uses ‘mining landscapes’ as a conceptual device to structure an analysis of the diverse impacts of mining, and to highlight the need for a comprehensive and collaborative approach to manage its after-effects.
The report makes a unique contribution to existing literature on mining and mining waste in the city-region by presenting an integrated perspective on their urban, environmental, social and economic processes, characteristics and consequences, both historical and contemporary. While accounts are often told from the viewpoint of specific disciplines (such as history, geography or sociology), the analyses presented in this report – comprising of written pieces, archival excerpts and photo essays – are unbounded by distinctive disciplinary conforms. This allows for the diversity of the landscape to be explored in new ways.
The report makes a call for the GCR’s mining landscapes to be understood as a connected landscape of systems rather than a set of isolated and forgotten features of a bygone mining era. From the abandoned mine areas that scatter the surface of the GCR, to earth tremors caused by hollowed out cavities below the earth, silicosis, acid mine drainage, distressed mining towns and more recent histories of artisanal mining – the legacy of gold mining in Gauteng has a variety of expressions, all emerging from the same interconnected history. The concluding chapter looks to the future and considers the possibilities for innovative and collaborative approaches to unshackle the towns and cities of the Witwatersrand from their gold-mining inheritance. This includes the prospects for spatial transformation, repairing social divisions, cultivating natural assets, and remedying the destructive health and environmental effects of a century of mining activity.
The report comprises eight chapters:
- Chapter 1 provides an introduction to the mining landscapes of the Gauteng City-Region, and sets out the purpose and structure of the Research Report.
- Chapter 2 interrogates the historical mining-related processes that have contributed to the city-region’s divided urban form. It uses the conceptual devices of ‘Landscapes of pleasure’ and ‘Landscapes of production’ to examine urban divisions.
- Chapter 3 investigates the legacy of mining waste on the region’s natural environment. It analyses discrepancies between policy and practice in the management of the Witwatersrand mining basins, and considers opportunities for addressing the legacies of poor environmental mismanagement.
- Chapter 4 is a photo essay that illustrates some of the environmental impacts of mining on the West Rand areas of Gauteng, including acid mine drainage.
- Chapter 5 further investigates abandoned mining areas, in particular the lasting health implications experienced by communities situated close to abandoned mining areas. It considers the environmental justice concerns associated with the spatial co-location of settlements and mining waste, and considers health challenges faced by former mine workers.
- Chapters 6 and 7 examine new prospects for the city-region’s mining waste sites through two ethnographic photo essays, capturing the complexity and hardship of, first, illegal mining and, second, the scavenging for old metal waste on abandoned mine dumps.
- Chapter 8 examines prospects for the GCR’s mining landscapes through an analysis of government and corporate rehabilitation programmes, including design exercises that imagine new and innovative futures for mining waste.
Date of publication:
Linked to project(s):Mining landscapes of the GCR (2018)
Uneven spaces: core and periphery in the Gauteng City-Region
Peripheral areas of the Gauteng City-Region – like small towns on the edge, large peri-urban and commercial farming areas, sprawling dormitory townships, huge swathes of displaced urbanisation in ex-Bantustans, and remote industrial and mining areas – are all poorly understood. Yet there is evidence that many of these areas are undergoing rapid change, with profound implications for many current policy debates including what to do about inequitable economic growth patterns, how to manage ongoing population movements in the post-apartheid period, where best to locate large public housing schemes, and so on.
Uneven spaces: Core and periphery in the Gauteng City-Region, GCRO’s sixth research report, comes from a clear recognition that despite the comparative wealth of Gauteng and its role in driving the national economy there are places of relative ‘peripherality’ in the GCR that require attention. The report is also a response to a strong focus in the existing literature on the physical and economic core of the province, the City of Johannesburg in particular. By contrast there is a relative paucity of analysis on less central parts of the city-region.
The work is the result of a research partnership between the GCRO and the South African Research Chair in Spatial Analysis and City Planning (SA&CP), in the School of Architecture and Planning at Wits University. GCRO’s Dr Sally Peberdy wrote the first part of the report entitled ‘Uneven development – core and periphery in Gauteng’. Prof Philip Harrison and Yasmeen Dinath from SA&CP compiled the second part, ‘Gauteng – on the edge’. Both parts, albeit through different modes, consider transitions in the social- and space-economies of outlying places.
The first part investigates the dynamics of peripheral areas in Gauteng through the lens of theories of uneven development. Showcasing a wealth of data and maps generated from the Census and GCRO’s own Quality of Life surveys, it analyses the multiple ways that spaces may be peripheral. These include unequal access to housing and services; the spread of income, household assets and employment opportunities; variations in perceived quality of life; and so on. The analysis builds from an initial binary delineation of parts of Gauteng as either ‘core’ or ‘periphery. It then progressively nuances our understanding by showing that notions of core and periphery are relational, that processes of change across what may be counted as core or periphery are often indeterminate and contradictory, and that there are often ‘peripheral’ areas in the heart of the GCR, and ‘core’ features in areas conventionally regarded as on the margin. This section concludes with thoughts on the role of government in creating, sustaining and ameliorating multiple forms of peripherality,
The second part of the report asks the question ‘what is happening along the geographic edge of the GCR?’, and seeks to answer this both through the lens of scholarship on edge cities, peri-metropolitan areas, and agglomeration, as well as through a number of in-depth case studies in six types of peripheral areas:
- Areas with extractive economies (Carletonville);
2. Industrialising ex-mining areas (Nigel-Heidelberg);
3. Areas with state-implanted industry (The Vaal, including Vereeniging, Vanderbijlpark and Sasolburg);
4. Decentralised growth points (Babelegi);
5. Agricultural service centres (Bronkhorstspruit); and
6, Recreational hubs (Hartbeespoort).
Through its exhaustive narrative accounts of the development of specific places on the edge of the GCR, this section of the report compellingly highlights the importance of history and timing, and asks us to consider how urban development drives economic development and vice versa.
Although ‘core’ and ‘periphery’ are artificial constructs, these terms gesture at very real spaces of uneven growth and development. The two parts of this report, different but complementary, considerably deepen our understanding of what is going on in parts of the city-region that are less well researched, and help focus the attention of policy-makers concerned with the causes and effects of – as well as possible solutions to – spatially uneven development outcomes.
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Linked to project(s):Peripheries and rural / urban transitions (2017)
Pathways to antiracism
There is an apparent resurgence of racism, xenophobia, and discrimination on the basis of ethnicity in South Africa. In this context careful policy-focused analytical work is critical to advance the constitutional values of non-racialism and equality. Pathways to antiracism, GCRO’s fifth Research Report, builds on GCRO’s ongoing research into race dynamics in the Gauteng City-Region, and aims to inform and provoke discussion around pathways towards social change. The study results from a long-standing partnership between the GCRO and the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation (AKF) on the meaning and interpretations of non-racialism in contemporary South Africa.
Pathways to antiracism consists of three substantive papers: ‘Antiracism in post-apartheid South Africa by Kira Erwin; ‘Doing antiracism work: Seeing through racial subjectivities’ by Caryn Abrahams; and ‘Global antiracism strategies and practice’, also by Kira Erwin. These papers are interspersed with photo essays, poetry and other short contributions.
Antiracism in post-apartheid South Africa. This paper examines the contested nature of the concept of antiracism, and reviews selected strategies and practices by the state and various civil society and faith-based organisations to address racism in South Africa after 1994. Since antiracism is a less frequently used concept in South Africa than non-racialism, the paper starts with an overview of antiracism theories from within and outside the country. Against this theoretical backdrop, the paper then analyses interview data from selected South African organisations that have undertaken strategies and projects to address racism. Many of these initiatives are directed at the micro level of institutions and communities. They provide valuable learnings that suggest meaningful change within project participants and in specific sites, as well as sophisticated practices that acknowledge how race is interwoven with other forms of social difference, including class, culture, gender, sexuality and ethnicity. However, these projects do not collectively add up to a national success story of reversing racism. In its conclusion the paper makes a case for thinking about how we may best move these isolated pockets of practice into a broader national antiracism strategy. One key suggestion is to create a space for collaboration and collectivity between civil society organisations, as well as between government and civil society. This shared knowledge project may potentially leverage the strengths of existing strategies and facilitate the co-design of new strategies, in turn offering exciting possibilities for a national South African dialogue around plural rather than purist notions of antiracism that engages directly with many of the theoretical debates globally and locally.
Doing antiracism work: seeing through racial subjectivities. This paper considers the way activists and others approach antiracism work. It begins with an explanation of the various ways people think through race, highlighting three typical subjectivities that shape racialised perspectives. The first, race essentialism, encompasses crass racism where there are assertions of superiority or inferiority. The second, race evasiveness, is when people distance themselves from accusations of racism by couching exclusion in other terms. The third, race cognisance, is when people acknowledge how race and racialised histories have shaped their ways of being and acting. The paper draws out these ways of seeing race, or acting in racialised ways, by looking at two recent examples that captured the public imagination, and demonstrates the complexities of race cognisance by capturing the voices of activists. The paper concludes that in this current conjuncture in South Africa, the challenge for activists is to teach people to be critical of their own race evasiveness, and, more generally, to think through ways to get beyond the struggle between race evasiveness, essentialism and awareness.
Global antiracism strategies and practice. In 2001 South Africa signed the United Nation’s Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA) at the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance. One of the commitments in the DDPA was the development of a national action plan (NAP) against racism, xenophobia and related intolerances. Fifteen years after the conference, South Africa has now developed a draft NAP. While very few countries have produced monitoring and evaluation reports on their action plans, where these are available (for example, Canada and Ireland) some lessons can be drawn on what did not work and why. This paper examines NAPs within an international context, and outlines some of the key lessons South African policymakers could learn from the experiences of other countries that have implemented NAPs. It includes a discussion on some of the inherent tensions between NAPs and international compliance, and more specifically how South Africa may want to start thinking about these during the further development and implementation of such a plan. The paper’s conclusion also raises some critical questions on whether NAPs work and what is needed if they are to move beyond an exercise in international compliance.
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Linked to project(s):Anti-racism in the GCR (2017)
A framework for a green infrastructure planning approach in the Gauteng City-Region
As the population, economy and urban built environment in the Gauteng City-Region (GCR) expand, government is increasingly under pressure to provide urban infrastructure to support growth. It is increasingly important that this infrastructure is sustainable, minimising the negative environmental impacts often associated with traditional forms of urban development. Green Infrastructure (GI) is the interconnected set of natural and man-made ecological systems, green spaces and other landscape features that provide services and strategic functions in the same way as traditional infrastructure. In harnessing the benefits of ecosystem services, GI has emerged as a more efficient, cost effective and sustainable alternative – and sometimes accompanying approach – to conventional forms of infrastructure.
Despite international evidence demonstrating how GI can be used as an alternative to, or in tandem with, traditional infrastructure, the GI approach has so far gained only limited traction in the GCR. In 2013 the GCRO published the State of Green Infrastructure in the GCR report. The report established the principles that underpin GI, used available data to map the extent of GI networks in the region, assessed to what extent municipalities were aware of and applying a GI approach, and demonstrated a possible way to value GI in local government financial systems. The conclusions of the State of Green Infrastructure report were used to guide the next phase of GCRO’s research in support of the adoption of GI approach – a phase focused on better understanding the opportunities for implementing GI in planning and infrastructure development programmes and on addressing some of the challenges associated with shifts towards this approach.
A framework for a green infrastructure planning approach in the Gauteng City-Region, GCRO’s fourth Research Report, builds on the foundations laid in the State of Green Infrastructure report. It assembles expert inputs and reflections from collaborative stakeholder discussions in what was known as the Green Infrastructure CityLab to illustrate important considerations for the development of a GI planning approach in the Gauteng City-Region (GCR).
The report is divided into three broad sections. Part A introduces the theoretical underpinnings of a GI approach and builds an argument for the importance of incorporating GI into planning and infrastructure development in the GCR. Part B presents three pieces written by external experts. They consider how GI and ecosystem services can be valued by municipalities, and how so-called ‘grey-green’ infrastructure design solutions can be implemented in the GCR. Part C reflects on the stakeholder engagement process that has been undertaken, primarily through the GI CityLab, to deepen understanding of how GI can be embedded in municipal practice. Based on these research findings, this report concludes with a strategy for GCRO’s next phase of work in its ongoing Green Assets and Infrastructure Project.
In October 2018, this report was the awarded project for 'Research in Sustainability' in the 2017/18 AfriSam-SAIA Awards for Sustainable Architecture + Innovation.
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Quality of life survey 2013: City benchmarking report
In 2013, the Gauteng City-Region Observatory (GCRO) ran its third Quality of Life (QoL) Survey in South Africa’s Gauteng Province. This GCRO Research Report is one of many outputs based on the survey results, standing alongside powerpoint presentations summarising findings from the data, vignettes, maps of the month, databriefs, and academic articles. The report compares results across Gauteng municipalities in 13 focus areas, including 'satisfaction with services and government', 'poverty and inequality', 'migration and household mobility', 'headspace' and 'quality of life'. This comparison, or benchmarking, is not intended to set municipalities on a competitive league table against one another. Relative achievements / progress and failures / decline are indeed highlighted, but not in an attempt to give a set of ‘scores’ that establish one municipality as ‘the best’.
GCRO's first QoL survey was conducted in 2009 and realised a sample of 6 636 respondents, 5 821 from within Gauteng and the remainder from selected wider city-region ‘footprint’ areas in three surrounding provinces: Mpumalanga, North West and the Free State. The second survey, conducted in 2011, nearly tripled in size and reached 16 729 respondents, this time all from within Gauteng. In 2013 the sample grew still further to 27 490 respondents, making QoL III probably the largest survey of social attitudes ever conducted in the province.
The enlargement of the survey in 2013 was made possible by a generous financial contribution from each of the three metropolitan municipalities in Gauteng – Tshwane, Ekurhuleni and Johannesburg. These city contributions supplemented GCRO’s own funds from the Gauteng Provincial Government, making up enough to achieve a Gauteng-wide sample with an error bar of just 0.6%.
The sample was distributed across all of the province’s 508 wards. The number of interviews realised per electoral ward – while not quite sufficient to be representative in strict statistical terms – is large enough to enable comparison across wards with a high degree of confidence. This gives Gauteng municipalities, and in particular the three cities where the ward samples were largest, critical local level data for analysis and programme targeting purposes.
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Urban Resilience Thinking for Municipalities
This document was prepared as a contribution to the Department of Science and Technology’s (DST’s) Grand Challenge on Global Change. The DST’s three-year funded programme at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) was titled 'Urban Resilience Assessment for Sustainable Urban Development’ and was developed with the specific intention of giving support to local government in South Africa. This was done with the recognition that municipalities have a potentially vital role in proactively managing processes of change.
This report offers municipalities and their officials a set of perspectives on urban resilience, and the possibilities and limitations of applying resilience theory. Although the focus of the report is on municipalities in South Africa, it is also applicable for rural contexts. The intention of this report is to stimulate “resilience thinking” rather than to offer a simple “guide for practice” and calls on municipalities to use ideas of urban resilience in a considered and critical way.
This report presents the theory of resilience and a series of structured discussions around the themes of adaptive governance, resilient urban form, infrastructure for resilience, ecological resilience and green economies for resilience.
External report URL:
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Mobility in the Gauteng City-Region
Mobility in the Gauteng City-Region has been written in a remarkable moment in the history of transport development in Gauteng. On the one hand the region appears to be in a new ‘golden era’ of transit infrastructure design and investment, as well as long-term planning for ever-growing commuter transport needs.
On the other hand, the transport difficulties faced by the Gauteng City-Region’s (GCR) fast-growing population, as well as the many financial, spatial, social, economic and environmental challenges that flow from the region-wide architecture of this population’s daily commuting, appear to be growing ever more acute. It is, therefore, important to delineate the existing flows of traffic across the GCR; to understand the challenges of transport efficiency, access and affordability; and to gauge the impact of key transport interventions like the Gautrain Rapid Rail Link, the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Programme and associated e-tolling, and municipal Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) infrastructure.
The report is structured as follows: a summary of recent transport infrastructure projects and key transport challenges are described in Chapter 1 written by Graeme Gotz and Chris Wray. The second and third chapters, by Prof Christo Venter and Willem Badenhorst, provide an in depth analysis of the 2011 Quality of Life survey transport questions, including the generation of a Quality of Transport Index. In Chapter 4, GCRO researcher Guy Trangoš provides a multi-scalar analysis of the public space design around four existing Gautrain stations – valuable research to be considered by authorities should the proposed extensions to the Gautrain go ahead. An often ignored but, from a sustainability perspective, an increasingly important aspect of transport is non-motorised transport (NMT). The report concludes with two NMT chapters by GCRO researcher Christina Culwick, exploring the state of NMT in the GCR and portraying the challenges and potential opportunities for the future of NMT in the city-region.
It is not within the scope of a report such as this to review every strategic intervention, nor critically assess every challenge. However, a wide-ranging analysis of the current ‘state of mobility’ in the GCR, and the impact of key infrastructures – or the consequences of their absence – is warranted. Within the frame of the enormous scale of transport planning and infrastructure development underway, as well as the GCR’s many deep and enduring transport challenges, it is hoped that this report will make a contribution to understanding past and current trends, the impact of and (missed) opportunities in key infrastructure investments, and some of the key current priorities that need more attention in this new ‘golden age’ of transport planning.
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Linked to project(s):Untangling transport (2021)
State of Green Infrastructure in the GCR
This State of Green Infrastructure report is both an assessment of the set of natural and manmade landscape features in the Gauteng City-Region (GCR) and an interrogation into how the services provided by these assets are perceived, understood and valued.
Inspiration is drawn from the conceptual and planning framework of ‘green infrastructure’, through which ecological systems, green spaces and other landscape features are regarded as providing services to society in the same way as those offered by traditional ‘hard’ infrastructure.
The analysis of how green infrastructure serves our society, contained in this report, focuses on both naturally occurring and deliberately planted vegetation within the Gauteng provincial boundary and its surrounding urban nodes, which together constitute the GCR.
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