Photography by:
  • GCRO

Micro-dynamics and Macro-processes (2022)

  • Complete
  • Prof Sarah Charlton, Garth Klein, Muhamed Suleman, Lindsay Howe, Prof Margot Rubin, Dr Alexandra Parker, Prof Anselmo Cani, Dr Domingos Macucule

A Maputo-Johannesburg comparative study of intra-household decision-making and state-investment in transit

Governments in South Africa and Mozambique have made significant investments in transport infrastructure over the last decade but this has not always resulted in changes to transit patterns in the metropolitan areas of Johannesburg and Maputo. To understand how transport infrastructure is used by residents in these cities, this research project examined the nuances of household mobility, access and decision-making in selected sites in Johannesburg and Maputo, and contrasted these everyday and lived experiences relative to government transport plans and policies in each location. The institutional partners were the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), including three research entities Gauteng City-Region Observatory, Centre for Urban and Built Environment Studies and South African Research Chair in Spatial Analysis and City Planning, and in Maputo, the University of Eduardo Mondlane. Additional support was provided by partners at the University of Sheffield and ETH Zurich.

The study used a variety of disciplinary approaches broadly connected to urban studies and a range of methods, including an innovative mobile app to monitor and map access and mobility, focus groups, auto-photography, digital diaries and deep qualitative interviews. A key feature was the engagement of both undergraduate and postgraduate students who conducted aspects of the research under staff supervision. Aside from the fieldwork, the project also included a joint team workshop in each city, exposing students to research team dialogue and comparative methodological approaches, and helped to build and strengthen existing relationships between the two institutions that have been fostered over the last decade. While the two cities of Johannesburg and Maputo are geographically relatively close to one-another on the continent, they have distinct histories and features, as well as some similarities, making for rich comparative research although this has been relatively limited to date. The project was funded by the ‘Mobility and Access in African Cities’ Program of the Volvo Research and Educational Foundations (VREF).

The project was successfully initiated with a team workshop held in Maputo in early March 2020, however, the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the fieldwork in both cities. Fieldwork was conducted between August 2020 and April 2021. A number of outputs are envisaged to come from the research including two reports and several academic publications.



Sarah Charlton, Margot Rubin and Alexandra Parker (September 2021) 'Micro-dynamics and Macro-processes: a Maputo - Johannesburg comparative study of intra-household decision-making and state-investment in transit', Faces of the City online seminar, 7 September 2021.

Sarah Charlton and Alexandra Parker (May 2021) 'Micro-dynamics and Macro-processes: a Maputo- Johannesburg comparative study of intra-household decision-making and state-investment in transit', VREF MAC Research Forum, 19 May 2021.

Last updated: 23 February 2022.


The GCRO sends out regular news to update subscribers on our research and events.