Research aims and methods
The project aims to investigate the relationships between spatial planning, social sustainability, and the formation of the post-apartheid South African state in the context of water service delivery. This research task involves a study both of how notions of social sustainability inform the development of water infrastructure and how existing infrastructure or the lack of it as well as other material conditions such as water availability, financial limitations, and geographical factors influence how social sustainability and post-apartheid citizenship can be imagined.
In order to study how material factors matter in relation to the understanding and the way that social sustainability is incorporated in water service delivery systems, key (semi-structured) interviews with state actors will be conducted. Two different municipalities will also be selected as case studies; one metropolitan municipality with a strong economic basis with relatively well-developed water infrastructure and good coverage of water access for its citizens and one district municipality with a weaker economic basis with relatively poor infrastructure and coverage of water access for its citizens. The research results will be of relevance both to the specific field of water governance in South Africa but also to the wider debate on the social dimension of sustainable development, arguable the least explored and defined pillar of the concept.