Human Settlements tracking for improved service delivery during and post a pandemic

The outbreak of COVID-19 increased the need to fast track service delivery in informal settlements to ensure adherence to physical distancing measures and basic hygiene. The Government of South Africa established several interventions to fast-track the provision of shelter and services to informal settlements dwellers in efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Data on the location of informal settlements is traditionally collected through ground surveys – mainly during censuses. Censuses are conducted every 5-10 years resulting in the data being outdated whilst the collection of data for special projects results in incomplete data, as the survey will target only the area of interest.

Remote sensing technology provides an opportunity to map and monitor human settlement developments including informal settlements over a larger geographic area more frequently. The data can be used to support planning and targeted surveys whilst reducing delays in project implementation time. The National Department of Human Settlements has been working with SANSA towards the development of human settlement products and services to help create situational awareness on the location and status of informal settlements. SANSA created a dashboard using data derived from medium to high resolution satellite imagery.

The dashboard shows the spatial distribution of informal settlements and quantifies the area covered by informal settlements per administrative boundaries. The information provided on the dashboard can be used during planning of services required by communities and to track progress made on the upgrade of informal settlements.

The dashboard also provides information on informal settlements that are closer to rivers and wetlands. These settlements may be contributing to pollution or environmental degradation and hence may requirement urgent attention. Click here to access the dashboard;




Vaneshree Maharaj