On 30 August, SERI's director of research and advocacy, Alana Potter, presented on the spatial mismatch between where low-income people live and where empolyment opportunities exist and how national and provincial government can promote spatial justice in South African cities at the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluations (DPME)'s KwaZulu-Natal research dissemination conference as part of its Programme to Support Pro-poor Policy Development (PSPPD). The programme seeks to support the implementation of the country’s Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) through research and capacity-building within government. The policy conference was attended by approximately 40 participants, including senior and mid-level officials from various provincial and national government departments, academics and civil society researchers.
Potter's presentation was based on a research report published by SERI in 2016, entitled Edged Out: Spatial Mismatch and Spatial Justice in South Africa’s Main Urban Centres. The report, written by Josh Budlender (former SERI research fellow) and Lauren Royston (SERI senior research associate), shows that housing located on the urban periphery in South Africa’s major urban centres is far away from job opportunities and acts as a poverty trap. In South Africa, jobs and economic activity are generally concentrated in the urban centres. Wealthy (disproportionately white) South Africans live relatively close to these urban centres, while poorer (overwhelmingly black) South Africans live on the urban periphery, far from employment and economic opportunities. This means that in South Africa, where jobs are concentrated around urban centres, people who live on the urban periphery face higher unemployment because of their location. These challenges are exacerbated by unregulated property markets that are driving the poor from urban centres and the failure of the South African state to address apartheid race-based spatial planning. The report recommends that the state and city governments proactively intervene in housing markets to ensure that affordable well-located housing is accessible to the poor. This will be central to dismantling the “apartheid city” and moving towards urban spatial justice.