GIS-based evaluation of public facility provision to achieve improved governance and equitable service delivery
The use of a GIS-based methodology – Service Access Planning - for assessing service provision and developing facility plans in South Africa to improve governance and equitable service delivery is described. A case study of library investment for eThekwini municipality is used to illustrate the methodology. The South African constitution requires that every citizen be granted access to basic services. In this context it has become a legislated requirement that local authorities in South Africa prepare Integrated Development Plans and develop performance management systems in order to promote development and deliver services effectively. Reporting requirements flowing from this occur in an environment full of pressures relating to insufficient financial and human resources to deal with the quantum of the development challenge, competing for political and administrative priorities, and the need to maintain existing infrastructure and at the same time to extend infrastructure into new areas.
eThekwini (Durban), South Africa is a metropolitan area with a wide spectrum of development contexts, wherein the use of Geographic Information Systems to evaluate access to public facilities and the availability of social services – based on agreed provision standards across this range of contexts – has led to improvements in governance and the targeting of capital investment to areas of greatest need. In tandem with the development of service provision standards, the GIS accessibility analysis enables more effective provision, management and monitoring of publicly provided facilities and services. Importantly, this technology promotes a transparent process which is empirically based and so cannot be unduly influenced by political pressures. It also supports the visualisation of results and ongoing reporting on agreed performance indicators in terms of service delivery goals. Short and long-term planning for facility development and services provision thus takes place in a framework of shared understanding that allows for the easy recognition of investment priorities within and across district boundaries and for a range of facilities and services.