Addressing the challenges of delivering sustainable human settlements in South Africa through the use of decision support tools was the topic of a workshop recently held at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. The project is funded by the Department of Science and Technology and managed by the Technology Innovation Agency.

The primary objective of the project is to identify an effective and high impact transformational decision support tool in South Africa that will assist in scaling up the delivery of sustainable settlements projects. The project is led by UKZN academics, Dr Sithembiso Myeni from the School of Built Environment and Development Studies and Dr Andrew Okem from the School of Life Sciences. They are assisted by postgraduate students from different academic disciplines at the University. The workshop was attended by key housing stakeholders from various levels of government as well as housing organisations in South Africa. Mr Tshepang Mosiea represented the Department of Science and Technology.

UKZN Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research, Professor Deresh Ramjugernath opened the workshop with a welcome message to the participants. He expressed his happiness that UKZN is involved in this exciting partnership with the Department of Science and Technology adding that a project of this nature is consistent with the University’s research priorities and flagship projects. On his part, the Dean of the School of Built Environment and Development Studies, Professor Ernest Khalema, noted that it was a great opportunity that the project is located in the School. He commended the project leaders and workshop participants and expressed optimism about the socio-economic impacts of the project of this nature.

Throughout the day, participants at the workshop engaged in lively discussions on the identification of decision support tools for sustainable human settlement. The experiences shared by the stakeholders who are on the frontline of human settlement in South Africa was a critical contribution to the project. The team looks forward to an exciting time ahead as they move towards the finalisation of the project.

Words: Andrew Okem and Sithembiso Myeni

Photograph: Onke Aphelele Qwabe