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Spatial challenges from peri‐urban expansion of small rural towns in South Africa

Contact person: Nils Ekelund
Responsible: Nils Ekelund
Co-workers: Per Schubert
Partner: Emmaculate Ingwani University of Venda, South Africa
Funding: SASUF
Timeframe: 2019-02-01 -- 2020-01-31
Faculty/Department: Faculty of Education and Society, Science, Environment, Society

Study the spatial challenges from urban expansion of selected small rural towns of Vhembe District in Limpopo Province of South Africa onto ecologically essential sensitive areas; and the resultant impact on municipal service provision, ecosystems services and household livelihoods.

Theme 5: Urbanisation and cities in the 21st Century

Title: Spatial challenges from peri-urban expansion of small rural towns in South Africa

Spatial challenges from the expansion of small rural towns is on the increase globally. In South Africa, small rural towns experience profound expansion because of twin forces of migration and urbanization. People, particularly migrants tend to move and settle in zones of comparative advantage such as small rural towns. Such spaces include ecologically essential sensitive areas. These emergent settlements engender multiple and complex spatial planning challenges that impact municipal service provision, ecosystems services, and household livelihoods in dynamic ways. The aim of this research is therefore to interrogate the spatial challenges from urban expansion of selected small rural towns of Vhembe District in Limpopo Province of South Africa onto ecologically essential sensitive areas; and the resultant impact on municipal service provision, ecosystems services and household livelihoods. These towns are Thohoyandou, Makhado Biaba, and Elim. The study seeks to: (1) map the spatial configuration of three small rural towns in Limpopo Province over time (1996 to 2018); (2) explore the drivers of peri-urban expansion in the selected small rural towns onto ecologically essential sensitive areas; (3) determine the impacts flowing from peri-urban expansion of the small rural towns on ecosystems services; household livelihoods and municipal service provision; and (4) to provide a framework or guidelines on adaptive strategies on sustainable management of spatial challenges in small rural towns - from below. The three small rural towns were selected while reflecting on the hierarchy of cities within the South African context. A triangulation of qualitative and quantitative data collection methods and data sources will be employed. Household heads, municipal planners, researchers from local research institutions, political leaders, and traditional leaders will be consulted. Mapping will be done using Remote Sensing (RS) and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) spatial software packages. Satellite imagery from 1996 to 2018 will be secured and analysed to reveal the changes that have been taking over the years. Global Positioning systems (GPS) will also be used to capture waypoints on key developments within the area of study, and will be analysed to reveal the state of ecologically essential sensitive areas, and the extent of peri-urban expansion in the small rural towns. Selected planning and social modes of analysis including the tragedy of the commons (Hardin, 1968), the production of space (Lefebvre, 1974); Ecosystems Services Approach (Following breakthrough publications such as Nature’s services (Daily, 1997; Portman, 2013); and the livelihoods analysis (Scoones, 2009) will be used to extract meaning from collected data, and to compare the dynamics of the spatial challenges from peri-urban expansion of the three selected small rural towns of South Africa. Factor analysis; correlation and regression analysis; and hierarchical cluster analysis will be used for quantitative data analysis. The collaborative and multidisciplinary study seeks to produce a framework on sustainable adaptable strategies to strengthen spatial planning effort of local municipalities, and resilience for small rural towns of South Africa. The findings can be generalized to other small rural towns elsewhere experiencing similar circumstances.

Key words: spatial, peri-urban expansion, small rural towns, wetlands ecosystems, livelihoods

Senast uppdaterad av Catarina Christiansson