Evaluating integrated human settlements by means of sustainability indicators
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Over the past 17 years, the South African Government has exerted a massive effort to deliver three million fully subsidized houses to low-income households, a feat that few other countries in the world have achieved. Despite this, there is mounting evidence that the current housing policies are not functioning optimally. Challenges arose from these un-functional policies which contributed to an ever increasing housing backlog, insufficient human and financial support and inefficient long term housing integration approaches. Housing provision was based on a quantitative approach in response to the ever increasing need of housing in South Africa. Government initiatives introduced the Reconstruction and Development plan (RDP) in 1994 to address this housing issue, but it contributed to the quantitative and unsustainable approach as housing provision was uniformed, financially unsustainable and was unlikely to deliver on the required scale. Recently human settlement delivery in South Africa had a paradigm shift to a more sustainable approach where housing delivery is focussed on the creation of sustainable integrated human settlements. The aim of this research is to evaluate this paradigm shift in human settlement delivery, along with the international and national initiatives such as the Un Habitat Agenda, Millennium Development Goals, Breaking New Ground and the National Development Plan in an attempt to understand what role they played towards the paradigm shift in human settlement delivery in South Africa, especially in terms of the creation of sustainable integrated human settlements. Furthermore, it was identified that an approach was needed to guide human settlements to be more sustainable. The ‘sustainability indicator identification approach’ was identified as an important link which can help to foster, create and promote sustainable development within integrated human settlements. Sustainability indicators provide feedback to decision makers, researchers and the community regarding the past and likely trends in the living environment that shapes the future as well as assisting and guiding housing delivery to be more sustainable. Sustainability indicators often reveal the systematic linkages that are often overlooked. This research strives to illustrate the importance of such sustainability indicators and their contribution towards the creation of sustainable development within integrated human settlements. The aim of this study was not to bring a solution to the complex and political human settlement environment, but rather presenting possible solutions to better sustainability approaches within integrated human settlements. The study addressed and evaluated sustainability of integrated human settlements from a spatial planning perspective.