Using mesozones to identify socio-economic vulnerable communities (Example: Eden District Municipality)
The CSIR’s demarcation of South Africa into mesozones - more or less equal-sized units that are similar in socio-economic character – has seen a positive response by stakeholders. Notably, the National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC) has informed the CSIR of its uptake of mesozones as stable analyses units.
The NDMC has confirmed that the centre would use the CSIR’s recently updated set of mesozones as its unit of measurement in establishing an indicative risk profile for South Africa. Such risks include profiling areas where fires or flooding occur more frequently than in other areas.
The whole of South Africa is demarcated into just fewer than 25 000 mesozones (or standard local economic areas). These zones are on average 50 km2 (or roughly 7 km x 7 km) in size, and nested within administrative and physiographic boundaries. The mesozones were developed using the geo-spatial analyses platform (GAP), a collaborative initiative between the CSIR, the dti and The Presidency in 2006. GAP was developed to support regional economic planning.
“A typical metro would consist of around 70 mesozones, while small towns, for example, consist of one or two mesozones,” explains the CSIR’s Alize le Roux.
The mesozone units not only contribute towards finer-scale, geographic-specific analyses, they also enable comparative analyses of socio-economic and biophysical data across administrative or sector-specific boundaries.
Through various GIS-based methods, researchers can assign economic, demographic, environmental and various other geo-datasets to the mesozones as common set of analyses units, by rescaling of the data.
CSIR researchers Gerbrand Mans and Johan Maritz have been actively involved with the production of various datasets that allow geographic analysis of areas on a meso-level from a socio-economic and/or development perspective. They continuously work on producing strategic datasets to the benefit of various stakeholders.
The CSIR makes the mesozone data set and numerous context-specific mesozone analyses of socio-economic and environmental data available through the GAP website (www.gap.csir.co.za), StepSA (stepsa.org) and the South African Risk and Vulnerability Atlas (sarva.org.za). Thus, the CSIR aims to provide support to stakeholders, including municipalities and provinces, for use in their regional spatial planning and budgeting processes. These would include integrated development plans, spatial development frameworks and disaster management plans.
The use of the mesozones and strategic data sets in the South African Risk and Vulnerability Atlas “...proved valuable in the analytical measurement of parameters at various levels and the outputs generated by the CSIR...has provided great insight into the qualification of social and economic vulnerability – key components in the generation of a risk profile...”, stated the official letter of support from the NDMC to the CSIR.
“With these measurement units, we have moved away from the traditional classification of urban and rural areas based merely on municipal boundaries. We are able to look at densities, economic activity and interactions, biophysical conditions and changes within a specific locality, as well as identify regional patterns and trends,” explains Alize le Roux.
The CSIR’s Elsona van Huyssteen reports that the value of the mesozone sizing units and GAP has already been recognised by a number of stakeholders across government, including The Presidency, the dti, the South African Cities Network, the departments of Human Settlements, Environmental Affairs, and Rural Development and Land Reform. More recently, the National Planning Commission and Eskom have shown an interest in mesozones as a measuring unit.
Alize le Roux: firstname.lastname@example.org
Elsona van Huyssteen: email@example.com
Gerbrand Mans: firstname.lastname@example.org
Johan Maritz: email@example.com