The spread of COVID-19 in South Africa and other countries in the region has again brought to the fore the fact that very dense, under-serviced, mostly informal, settlements are not healthy places to live. They are also places where the control of the spread of a disease is difficult to manage.
Over the last two to three decades in South Africa, government and private sector investments in housing and urban infrastructure have not given enough attention to creating well-designed, dense environments that are comfortable, dignified, and healthy places to live, nor to cities and towns that are healthy as a whole. Individual targets invested in by individual ‘line departments’ for achieving access to clean water, adequate sanitation, clean energy, and to adequate housing, seem to have been met on paper. But it appears that, given the emergency response that was required to address the imminent spread of COVID-19, the sum total of state and commercial investment has not adequately addressed the overall quality of cities, towns and regions as places to live a healthy life. There is still great inequality and there remain very vulnerable places, both urban and rural.
This webinar will reflect from several different perspectives on the challenges of understanding and planning for, and with, informal settlements in time of disaster. What have we learnt and what has started to work better as a result of the short and longer term challenges?