Launch of NWISUP Atlas

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North West province leads in informal settlements upgrade

Rustenburg, 13 April 2012 - The North West Department of Human Settlements, Public Safety & Liaison in partnership with the South African National Space Agency (SANSA) and SATPLAN, has developed the first comprehensive provincial informal settlement dataset for the North West Informal Settlement Upgrading Programme.

The data, which was derived from remotely sensed satellite imagery taken over the North West province during a five-year period, have been compiled into a series of print and digital atlases that identify and analyse the extent of informal settlement pgrading requirements across the province.

Science and Technology Director General, Dr Phil Mjwara (on behalf of Minister Ms Naledi Pandor), presented a full set of the North West Informal Settlement Upgrading Programme's NWISUP Informal Settlements Atlas Series to Ms Desbo Mohono, the MEC for Human Settlements in the North West province, at a presentation ceremony held in Rustenburg today.

According to Dr Mjwara, "the NWISUP is a unique achievement for the North West province and one that we hope will be emulated by other provinces, so that people in informal settlements throughout South Africa will benefit from improved living conditions and quality of life."

"The compilation of this atlas series is evidence of the strategic role of space science and technology, specifically Earth observation satellite imagery, in addressing real-world problems," she said.

Aligned with government's Outcome 8 Targets – Upgrade Households in well located informal settlements with access to basic services and secure tenure by 2014, the NWISUP has provided the province with a basis from which improvement initiatives and housing delivery efforts can be fast-tracked.

"As a province, we now have a systematic approach in place to monitor informal settlement growth patterns. This will assist our provincial, district and local municipal role players in planning and upgrading the many informal settlements in the province," said Ms Mohono.

The project started in April 2007 with the aim to conduct a province-wide informal settlements needs and requirements assessment to inform programme planning. Additional deliverables included a reliable and functional informal settlements database, a monitoring mechanism to track and record movement and developments of and within these settlements.

"A Johannesburg-based GIS consultancy, SATPLAN, was sub-contracted to use GIS software and satellite imagery generated by SPOT-5 satellite at 2.5 m spatial resolution to analyse the informal settlement dynamics. This included the history and growth patterns" explained Daniel Matsapola, of SANSA.

District workshops were held with municipal officials from affected municipalities in the province who contributed local knowledge about the settlements in their areas. This added significant value to the accuracy of the overall product, which includes the spatial locations and growth of the settlements since 1994.

"While the project started out as a database of informal settlements, the possibility to evaluate the growth of the settlements against the provision of low-cost housing provided an ideal tool to gauge the level at which such housing should be provided in order to clear the backlog of informal settlements," said Kabelo Mpobole, the project manager.

"Provincial and local municipal human settlements officials now have accurate baseline information on which to base decision. The value of the space-derived dataset is significant, as the information previously was either non-existent or inadequate. An added benefit is that all officials now use the same dataset, which greatly facilitates and coordinates planning," said Ilan Guest, of SATPLAN.

Community leaders and municipal officials who attended the event agreed that without the accurate and relevant base data, sustainable development and informed decision-making could not be done effectively. Not only did the project address aspects of Outcome 8 of government's 12-priority areas, it also highlighted the practical value of space science and technology as one of the five grand challenges of the Department of Science and Technology's 10-Year Innovation Plan to address socio-economic challenges.

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