Exploring Spatial Growth Pattern of Settlements in Customary Land – A study of Adams Rural, KwaZulu-Natal.


GISc, mapping and cartography

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Siboniso Msinsi Dlamini, Department of Rural Developmentand Land Reform,South Africa,
Mulemwa Akombelwa, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa,
Mwitwa Chilufya, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa,


For centuries migration has been known to be a trend where people move from an area with poor resources to that which promises better life. In modern day the pattern is that of people moving from rural to urban areas. There is an unusual trend unfolding in Adams Rural, a rural area south of Durban in South Africa, where the migration norms appear to have been reversed.

People have been moving from urban areas to this rural area. This trend is observable as an increase in human settlements over the past decade and is confirmed by annual aerial imagery of the area captured by the eThekwini Municipality. The increasing demand for settlements has placed pressure on customary stakeholders to provide more land for residential purposes resulting in loss of land previously reserved for agriculture predominantly in the form of sugarcane plantation. This research employs Geographic Information System (GIS) technology and change detection performed on selected orthophoto imagery to assess spatial change patterns, and to quantify the amount and rate of change in human settlements of Adams Rural during the period 2001 to 2012. The results show that spatial coverage of human settlements has more than doubled with commensurate loss in agricultural land.

Demographic data for 2001 and 2011 obtained from statistics South Africa (Statistics SA) also confirms that the population of the area has more than doubled over the same period. The rate of increase in settlements varied between periods considered with the population increasing proportionately.

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