Masters Degrees (Geography and Environmental Studies)

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Now showing 1 - 5 of 314
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    The challenges of developing countries transitioning to green transportation: a Cape Town case study.
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2024-03 ) Malebo, Tumelo; Geyer, Hermanus Stephanus ; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. of Geography and Environmental Studies.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Transportation is the key driver of socioeconomic development. From a planning perspective, transportation creates networks, nodes, and corridors to increase the goods and services exchanged and consumed in an economy. Green transportation is gaining significance in the view of the public due to awareness that emissions and pollution from internal combustion engines ought to be addressed. This is of particular interest in the built environment to more efficiently distribute resources in society and ensure sustainability. In South Africa, the study analyses the viewpoints of the key stakeholders in industry and government to define the emergence of a nascent green transportation industry, to understand the current state of affairs on green transportation transitions, and the challenges and bottlenecks in establishing green transportation technology in South Africa. The study also critically analyses the effect of current policy on new energy vehicles. The study finds that there is a disconnect between the vision for green transportation in the built environment and the design standards and legislation implemented. Top-down proposals do not correlate with bottom-up regulations. Most policy is vague and uncertain on how to correlate taxes, subsidies, levies, infrastructure, and manufacturing regulations to protect the existing motor export industry whilst transitioning to green transportation technology. The key to green transportation transitions is to stimulate local new energy vehicle component production so that these vehicles can become more affordable to users in South Africa. This requires updating urban planning and design standards, the engagement of civic groups in a green technology micro-economy, adapting outdated policies, and strengthening local research in green technology. Most important is that the decisions must be just, creating additional jobs and economic growth with the future decline in demand for internal combustion engine vehicles.
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    Utility planning in bespoke off-grid utility infrastructure systems in South Africa
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2024-03 ) Skipp, Kayla; Geyer, Hermanus Stephanus ; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. of Geography and Environmental Studies.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The study evaluates the role of next-generation infrastructure within an infrastructural ecology paradigm to reconceptualise the transition to climate adaptive and resilient utilities which integrate the social, economic and environmental roles of utility systems in modern society. Globally, modern contexts require increased infrastructural sustainability and resilience. The study assesses the current state of utility infrastructure systems in South Africa and the manner in which these systems could integrate the economic, social, and ecological functions of utilities within an infrastructural ecology. The study argues that utility planners are crucial in solving current issues within utility systems, and are thereby crucial in shifting utility systems towards their goals of sustainability and resilience. Therefore, the study discusses practical development principles for utility infrastructure in line with an infrastructural ecology paradigm, as well as the role of the utility planner in developing sustainable, resilient infrastructure. The study critically analyses the roles of infrastructure in society, the challenges of traditional LTS utilities and the opportunities of next-generation infrastructure to alleviate the infrastructural challenges in South Africa. In particular, the study highlights the principles of next-generation infrastructure, in terms of its developing multifunctional uses for infrastructure, the co-location of utility functions, low-carbon utility diversification strategies as well as combining urban and natural ecosystem services through soft-path approaches. This also includes implementing communitysupportive strategies involving the community throughout the lifetime of the project, designing infrastructure to serve the community needs of the local community, and developing climate mitigation and adaptation strategies through strong public-private cooperation and shared information management systems. The study argues that next-generation infrastructure and infrastructural ecology requires a utility planning approach that emphasises complex multidisciplinary problem-solving to create multifunctional, co-located and networked infrastructure. The planner serves a key position in this process as a liaison between the different professional disciplines, local authorities and the local communities, to implement energy diversification strategies and the soft-path integration between utilities and ecosystems services. Utility planning also implements climate-adaptive strategies and community-supportive practices that involves communities rather than merely consults them. The research employed a mixed-method case study involving semi-structured interviews with a variety of urban development practitioners, and policy content analysis evaluation. The research results indicate that the historic LTS model is highly inefficient, resulting in an unequal distribution of utilities, high utility failure rates, high funding and maintenance costs, and community dissatisfaction with declining service delivery rates. Next-generation infrastructure has made significant breakthroughs in renewable energy and information systems, particularly in rural areas. However, many local authorities are reluctant to implement these innovations because of non-compliant local policies, jurisdictional fragmentation and special interests. Communities are also reluctant to accept these infrastructures and require significant amenity spillovers to accept the transitions. The policy analysis noted significant advances in infrastructural ecology within the different plans and policies, with a strong support for co-located infrastructure, energy diversification and community-supportive strategies. However, these plans lack a multifunctional approach to infrastructure and lacked synergy between the infrastructure initiatives. The plans also lack soft-path approaches to integrating utilities with ecosystem services.
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    Paratransit-oriented transit orientated development in the Global South: minibus taxi urbanism in South Africa.
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2024-03) Libunyu, Edzani; Geyer, Hermanus Stepanus ; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. of Geography and Environmental Studies.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The study evaluates the benefits and challenges associated with the integration of paratransit into Transport-Oriented Development (TOD) in South Africa, with a particular focus on the parallel operation of paratransit with Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and Light Rail Transit (LRT) and the operation of paratransit-orientated TOD in peri-urban settlements in the Global South. TOD is an integral component of the nation's transportation and urban development policies, as emphasised in various national, provincial, and local policies in Cape Town. The primary objective of TOD is to reshape the urban landscape of South Africa, redressing the spatial inequities stemming from the historical legacy of apartheid urban planning, urban sprawl, housing unaffordability, and increased economic and labour costs whilst providing sustainable public transportation services. A fundamental challenge is developing a cost-efficient and affordable public transportation system that increases spatial mobility, accessibility and non-motorised transportation whilst reducing travel distances and travel times. The study underscores that the relationship between TOD, transportation modalities, and land use dynamics in Africa differs substantially from the Global North, predominantly due to the prevalence of paratransit transportation services in African cities. Furthermore, the deeply segregated and spatially fragmented urban structure in South African cities exacerbates expensive long-distance commutes and inefficient peak-to-off-peak demand distribution. The inappropriate application of TOD models leads to costly and unsustainable transportation services, and a highly cross-subsidised public transportation model that reinforces fragmented settlement patterns. To address these challenges, the research advocates for a paratransit-orientated TOD model customised to the unique contexts of African cities, aiming to produce a flexible and affordable transportation service that is demand responsive to lower-income groups and high-density informal mixed-use development in peripheral townships and which carries lower subsidisation costs. This model adopts an experimental approach to development and envisions a polycentric urban framework, linking peripheral high-density settlements to inner-city TODs through circular transportation routes. The research results indicate that although there are no policy limitations to integrating paratransit, particularly the Minibus Taxi (MBT) service, state policies promoted Western-style BRT models in addition to paratransit and other public transportation modes, creating a contradictory and unsustainable BRT service with a low ridership, high subsidies, unaffordable pricing and limited spatial coverage. Paratransit can improve BRT services due to its quick and efficient services, high fuel economy, spatial flexibility and cost-efficient operations. The main challenges to integrate paratransit into BRT models is the large sunk costs of existing BRT infrastructure, adapting unscheduled MBT services, route duplication, administrative challenges of coordinating with multiple operators and its perception as unsafe and unresponsive to traffic regulations. It is envisioned that extending recapitalisation programmes can serve to further regularise paratransit services, particularly on cost-inefficient BRT routes. Many MBT operators are willing to integrate into regularised BRT services to streamline their own operations and the perception of the paratransit industry. The main grievances is the marginalisation of MBT as a last-mile feeder service and the lack of knowledge amongst transportation officials regarding the operational needs, and poor public engagement processes in TOD strategies. Key to the successful integration of paratransit into TOD strategies is extensive MBT engagement in all phases of the TOD policies and community education and awareness programmes informing MBT operators of BRT policy, logistics and management, and improving the perception of paratransit amongst the general public as a regularised and safe service.
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    Machine learning for regional modelling of soil depth in the Western Cape of South Africa
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2024-03 ) Du Plessis, Juan; Mashimbye, Zama Eric; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. of Geography and Environmental Studies.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Soil depth is a property of soils that has a profound impact on numerous processes, natural and human-related. Soil depth itself is also impacted by various external factors. Currently, in South Africa, soil databases and knowledge suites contain many year’s worth of soil data collected over the course of various studies, however, these information repositories lack the ability to be updated frequently, and cost-effectively. Traditionally, these measurements are taken in-field and require lengthy and expensive excavations to be able to extract the necessary information. The data also mostly consists of low-resolution data that is not always appropriate for every application, especially smaller-scale, local operations. Digital soil mapping (DSM), along with freely available, high-resolution imagery and data offers a cost-efficient alternative to traditional soil mapping methods and has the potential to be automated, resulting in continuously updated datasets. These continuously updated datasets are needed increasingly as climate change affects the environment in which humans operate, specifically agriculture (though its reach extends to many other industries). They will contribute to decision-making assistance systems that are focussed on mitigating the effects of climate change. DSM, however, has not been widely adopted in South Africa, therefore there is a growing need for research relating to these issues. This study aims to evaluate digital soil mapping (DSM) and machine learning (ML) methodologies to map soil depth at a much higher resolution than what is currently available in South Africa, as well as address a few additional concerns when applying these methodologies, such as input data, sampling techniques etc. The two main objectives were divided into two experiment groups. The first experiment group evaluated the modelling ability of a per-pixel approach to soil depth modelling. Covariates relating to terrain variables, Sentinel-2 optical imagery and climatic data were used in various combinations to determine their influence on soil depth. It was found that these models were able to model soil depth with moderate performance, leaving room for improvement. The per-pixel approach also appeared to prefer higher resolution data (10 m) as opposed to lower resolution (30 m). The second experiment group followed a similar methodology, however, instead opting for an object-oriented approach. These models were found to be marginally more reliable and robust than the per-pixel-based analyses and appeared to have had less of a reliance on higher resolution data to produce models with comparable performance. The results show that soil depth classification models can be produced with overall accuracies of 66%. They also show that soil depth regression models can be produced with relatively low mean absolute error values of 288.81 mm and are able to explain 38% of the variability of soil depth distribution. Recommendations have also been made for future research to aid in the improvement of these performance metrics.
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    The role of hotels in responding to pandemics: a case study of Covid-19 and hotels in Cape Town, South Africa
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2024-03) Beneke, Neno Amurie; Zweig, Patricia; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. of Geography and Social Sciences.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The COVID-19 pandemic is a global outbreak of an infectious coronavirus caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The first cases were recorded in Wuhan, China in December 2019 and spread rapidly across the world, being officially declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern by the World Health Organization on 11 March 2020. By 4 September 2023, 770 million cases of the virus had been recorded globally, with over 6.9 million confirmed deaths, making it the fifth deadliest pandemic in history. Common measures of response and mitigation during the pandemic included restrictions on travel and business operations, national lockdowns, mask mandates, contact tracing and testing systems as well as quarantine and isolation. Due to the restrictions on movement and travel, many sectors of the economy were significantly affected, among them the tourism industry. The COVID-19 pandemic also significantly challenged health care systems, with many hospital wards and intensive care units quickly becoming overcrowded. This led to a decrease in the quality of care, with patients often denied access to life-saving services. One of the biggest challenges was a lack of adequate state-sanctioned facilities for those needing to quarantine or isolate to reduce the exposure of other people to the virus. To reduce this risk, many hotels and other tourism facilities were adapted for use as isolation and quarantine facilities. In South Africa, a state of disaster was declared in accordance with the Disaster Management Act (Act 57/2002) on 23 March 2020, imposing a nationwide lockdown as a risk reduction measure, severely restricting movement and travel.When 114 South Africans living inWuhan, China were repatriated to South Africa in March 2020, they were quarantined in an isolated hotel in Limpopo for 14 days. This was the first time a hotel was used for such purposes in South Africa during the pandemic. By 30 August 2023, the country had recorded over four million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and over 102 000 deaths. The study sought to understand how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted on the travel industry, specifically how hotel operations changed in 2020 when the pandemic was at its peak, becoming part of the response effort. In a case study of five hotels in Cape Town, South Africa, the research investigated what motivated them to become quarantine and/or isolation facilities and how they achieved this, noting the challenges they encountered, and lessons learned. It was found that globally many hotels were quickly and successfully converted into facilities for quarantine, isolation, and other medical purposes, reducing the pressure on public health institutions, while also assisting in surveillance, tracing, screening, and disseminating information. Detailing the experiences of management staff working in a sample of Cape Town hotels that adapted during the pandemic, the study explored the lived experiences of being part of the response and helping to reduce the risk of disease spread. Drawing on the findings, recommendations are made suggesting how hotels might be better prepared and respond more effectively in any future such health emergencies.