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State of the South African Cities People's Guide 2021

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14 July 2022


SACN Librarian

Guide/ Handbook

SA Cities Network

South Africa

Cities are about people, first and foremost. And, as the national Integrated Urban Development Framework states, South African cities should be safe, liveable, socially integrated, economically inclusive and globally competitive, with an active citizenry.


The 2021 State of Cities Report (SoCR) reaffirms an important call to action for all segments of society – from communities and neighbourhoods to cities, from cities to the nation and from the nation to the global – to support the inclusive growth and development of South African cities. The Call to Action comes in the wake of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the continued role that cities play in the fabric of South African life, and its reconstruction after the devastating consequences of COVID-19.


Our cities continue to be at the coalface of emerging and global pressures. The impact of climate change and the need to strengthen cities towards a resilience agenda continues to be ever-present. The framing and role of cities across South Africa can unique be positioned through the frame of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agenda, Habitat III and the Paris climate agreement on cities (at COP26), which all reaffirm the critical role of cities in driving development in environmentally sustainable ways.


The consequences and impact of COVID-19 underscore that we are all deeply connected. As the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu reminded us “I am a person through other people. My humanity is tied to yours”.


Ubuntu and the role of the active citizenry are at the heart of the call to action. We must each find ourselves in this development, understand where we fit in, what futures we are driving towards, and how we can play our part. This People’s Guide to understanding the context and messages of the SoCR is meant to help in this.


We at SA Cities Network look forward to your feedback on what more you need to know so that we can serve and partner with you better. We trust that, in turn, you will play your part in making your community (and your city) a better place to live and grow for all.


Download here


Website References

Buffalo City

Built environment


Cape Town

Data analysis




Environmental management

Food security



Human settlements





Natural environment

Nelson Mandela Bay


Social facilities

Solid waste

South Africa




Water and sanitation


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