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Spatial Planning, Land Development and Land Use Management in a Context of HIV and AIDS

October 2005

Prepared by Development Works (
Prepared for the South African Cities Network

SARPN acknowledges the South African Cities Network as the source of this document.
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  1. Why HIV, Spatial planning and land use management

    The spread of HIV and the impact of AIDS are affected by the manner in which land and space, as platforms for human activity, are structured and developed. Conversely, the wide ranging social, economic and demographic transformation that arises from HIV and AIDS affects the use and development of land. Responding to this inter-relationship between HIV and AIDS on one hand; and spatial planning and land use management on the other, is imperative for all municipalities. The situation is particularly challenging in cities as they are places where land is not only scarce and subject to the demands of urbanisation but also where HIV and AIDS are concentrated.

    Responding to this imperative requires a sound understanding of the various facets of this relationship. The relationship is particularly complex. This complexity arises because its different facets are primarily indirect. Increases in the number of deaths, whether brought about because of AIDS and/or urbanisation, within the area of jurisdiction of municipalities, speak directly to the cemeteries and crematoria planning and management competence of municipalities. Similarly, HIV morbidity and mortality in the municipal workplace affect directly the institutional capacities and budgetary resources, available to the municipality to perform its spatial planning, land development and land use management roles. However, suggesting that settlement planning and land development processes, norms and standards have a bearing on the spread and impacts of HIV and AIDS require a little mental gymnastics.

    HIV and AIDS impact on the sustainability of communities and their development conditions (Ambert, forthcoming). Conversely development conditions affect HIV prevalence and the impact of AIDS on individuals, households and communities. Poor housing and settlement conditions have been correlated with high HIV prevalence. Inadequate access to services, to secure tenure and to housing makes HIV positive individuals and HIV negative individuals alike particularly vulnerable to opportunistic infections (ibid). Such conditions do not provide an appropriate platform for care and support of the sick and frail (Tomlinson, 2003). HIV and AIDS fuel fluidity in household formation patterns, household size, mobility and profile. These trends find expression in increased informality and therefore the perpetuation of informal settlements (Ambert, forthcoming).

    Spatial and settlement planning form the basis on which service delivery investment decisions are made and services delivered. Spatial planning at the city-scale helps determine the location of new settlements and the identification of informal settlements for regularisation and upgrading and hence accessibility to some of the services and opportunities HIV positive and negative persons alike have at their disposal to fend-off the spread and impacts of HIV and AIDS. Similarly, failing to plan for and implement the release of sufficient land to accommodate household growth in the cities means that households and individuals have little option but to turn to informality as a settlement and shelter strategy. Planning and managing land use, whether formal or informal, similarly falls within the ambit of municipal functions.

    On the basis of this understanding, this study proposes approaches and strategies for land planning, development and management practices in cities, that:

    • Contribute to decreasing the rate of HIV infection;
    • Contribute to mitigating opportunistic infections and AIDS defining conditions;
    • Respond to shifts in demographic and socio-economic dynamics arising from the impacts of HIV and AIDS in society, and in turn demand and use of land;
    • Respond to the increase in the rate of morbidity resulting from AIDS; and
    • Respond to the impacts of HIV and AIDS on the supply-side of land development and management.

  2. Scope and methodology for the study

    The terms spatial planning, land use management and land development have been specified in the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management (Department of Land Affairs, 2001). This specification has been used to guide the scope of the study, as follows:

    • Spatial planning: planning of the way in which different activities, land uses and buildings are located in relation to each other, in terms of distance between them, proximity to each other and the way in which spatial considerations influence and are influenced by economic, social, political, infrastructural and environmental considerations;
    • Land-use planning: planning of human activity to ensure that land is put to the optimal use, taking into account the different effects that land-uses can have in relation to social, political, economic and environmental concerns; and
    • Land development: the process of building and landscaping land in order to enhance its commercial or social value.

    As can be seen in the body of this report, the study has sought to engage with all three dimensions of planning, in general, but also to focus on specific dimensions that are of particular relevance in a context of HIV and AIDS, as follows:

    • Spatial planning and land development for informal settlement upgrading;
    • Spatial planning and land development for new settlement development;
    • Land use planning and management for informality; and
    • Spatial and land use planning for the living and the dead.

    The process followed in the course of this study has included:

    • An extensive review of literature;
    • Primary research with environmental health as well as parks and cemeteries officials in the cities;
    • Primary research with anthropology and sociology researchers, religious leaders and traditional healers;
    • Engagement with the teams responsible for two complementary studies (i.e. HIV and migration, and HIV and poverty); and
    • Worksessions to analyse the research findings and develop strategies and responses.

  3. Structure of the report

    This report is structured as follows:

    • Section two describes some of the underlying bio-medical assumptions of the study in respect of HIV and AIDS;
    • Section three explores the range of impacts of spatial and structural factors on HIV and AIDS as well as the demographic, social and economic impacts of HIV and AIDS on land and spatial development dynamics;
    • Section four specifically explores the challenges associated with AIDS related mortality in terms of land use in the face of current and alternative methods of disposal of human remains;
    • Section five briefly presents existing research findings in respect of the impacts of HIV and AIDS on the supply side of spatial planning, land development and land use management; and finally
    • Section six proposes approaches and recommendations to respond, in an integrated manner, to the challenges associated with HIV and AIDS in respect of spatial planning, land development and land use management.

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