Globally, policymakers often describe informal settlements and slums in terms of health problems. In this paper we trace the way housing and planning have been linked to health concerns in the history of South Africa and we assess post-apartheid literature on the topic. We note that researchers continue to rely on a biomedical understanding of the relationship between housing, planning and health although, we argue, the links between them are tenuous. We propose the capabilities approach as a way to understand this relationship. Reframing the relationship between housing, planning and health within the capabilities approach may improve the current understanding of this link.
This paper discusses the historical links between housing, planning and health in South Africa, assesses post-apartheid policy, and reviews post-apartheid literature on the relationship between housing, planning and health.
Results and conclusions
We find it is assumed that the link between housing, planning and health is a biomedical concern and not a social concern. We argue that scholars thinking about this relationship should consider the opportunities embedded in the capabilities approach to understand health outside the biomedical frame.
This paper examines Mangaung’s economic development initiatives against the background of the latest literature on secondary cities, with a specific emphasis on the 20-year period that has elapsed since the dawn of the postapartheid era. Although some of the plans aim to reverse apartheid planning it is argued that these plans are being hampered by the fact that they tend to focus on a local “buzz” option, and run counter to historical pathways for the city. Moreover, they do not take the value of an increasing knowledge economy into account, and they fail to contextualise the city’s development and future prospects in terms of its regional role. The paper identifies a number of pathways that build on history and include options for ensuring active participation in an increasing knowledge economy. Our contention is that the regional role of the city remains one of the key assets with a view to building future economic development pathways. Finally, a number of research themes are identified.