South Africa is urbanising rapidly: 63% of South Africans are already living in urban areas and the statistics will rise to 71% by 2030. By 2050, eight in 10 people will be living in urban areas and this will increase demand on basic infrastructure requirements.

Given this reality, government has developed an Integrated Urban Development Framework (IUDF).

Addressing lawmakers on the topic, the  Deputy Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) said the challenges of urbanisation are many: environment consequences (direct impact on nature conversation and natural habitats), unemployment, urban poverty (poor living conditions), criminality, loss of original fabric of society due to change in living conditions, negative impact on heritage and culture, urban congestion and increase in cost of living (utilities and basic services).

The legacy of apartheid spatial planning, including Bantustans and forced removals, led to spatial challenges. These include spatial injustice, spatial unsustainability, lack of spatial quality, spatial inefficiencies, lack of spatial resilience and the need to increase the state’s capabilities. Four primary factors perpetuated apartheid spatial patterns: continued segregated urban settlements, unequal income levels and access to services, unsustainable infrastructure networks and consumption patterns and existing markets and land use.

Against this background, the IUDF was adopted by Cabinet in April 2016. It sets out principles, policies and programmes to achieve the NDP goals. Spatial alignment is critical as a planning priority to target government’s investment, initiatives and projects. It required strategic selection, prioritisation and coordination of interventions between different role players, including the private sector and civil society. This kind of outcome- oriented spatial alignment of government would require (i) integration between different functional sectors or line departments within specific localities, (ii) strategic alignment across different spatial scales and (iii) active guidance for spatial alignment and outcomes of different role players within specific places.

Infrastructure planning and delivery ought to take into account the impact of urbanisation in addressing backlogs in housing, schools, hospitals, clinics, students accommodation, access to reliable water supply and electricity.

Work is already underway to implement the Framework. This includes a City Support Programme and Small Towns Regeneration Programme.

Portfolio Committees were advised to use the IUDF as a framework for interrogating the urban impact of the programmes and budgets of their reporting departments and entities.

Committee Members welcomed the presentation and agreed that there is a need to consider this seriously given the many people migrating to cities.

They remarked that all aspects of urban planning needed resources. It was not only about housing the growing population in cities but also feeding them. They felt that the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform was not playing a strong enough role. Failure to develop the rural areas contributed to migration in the cities.