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Location, Mobility, and Access to Work

A Qualitative Exploration in Low-Income Settlements

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Human Sciences Research Council, C J Venter , C Cross

01 January 2011

Spatial Temporal Evidence for Planning South Africa


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Academic paper

Spatial Temporal Evidence for Planning South Africa

South Africa

Current research and policy debates are shining an intense spotlight on the links between spatial policy, housing (both in terms of type and location), public transport cost and supply patterns, and access to the labour market by the poor. In order to explore these links empirically a qualitative analysis was performed of settlement and mobility patterns observed in 32 low-income settlements across a range of urban and rural locations in Gauteng, Limpopo and Mpumalanga.
Data was from in-depth household surveys, supplemented by GIS and transport supply data. Key factors defining the settlement-mobility-livelihoods relationship are regional accessibility (relative to large urban centres and secondary towns), local accessibility, and household characteristics.
Of particular importance to regional employment access is the spatial envelope of job opportunities that can be reached with the existing public transport network, which explains the choice of many rural households to urbanise in order to maximise their chances of gaining a foothold in the economy.Within-settlement characteristics such as walking distances to public transport, the age and maturity of settlements, and internal road conditions are also key to mobility.

In this article, the authors describe a classification system using these three dimensions, to help identify areas with similar access opportunities and constraints, and to help spatial and transport planners to fashion particular strategies for improving livelihoods in particular areas.

Abstract based directly on source.


Website References

Built environment




Human settlements


Low income housing

Low-cost transport



Poverty & inequality

Public transportation



South Africa




Urban and Regional Dynamics

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