The municipality is predominantly rural. Flagstaff and Lusikisiki are the two major urban centres. The predominant land use is subsistence agriculture with commercial agriculture activities generally occurring further inland. Coastal forests are used indiscriminately by local communities.
Most of the land that is available for agriculture and forestry is communal land. The municipality has no land use planning policy and this renders them unable to prevent land invasion which has proved to be a critical problem. The municipality, also, has no dedicated staff to deal with development control. From an economic perspective one of the most critical challenges facing the municipality is the use of arable land for forestry instead of purely for agriculture. This requires community awareness and education as well as cost benefit analysis.
To address these challenge and also those of economic development, a need to deal with land availability becomes a priority. The following are problems that have been identified in relation to land availability:
- Demarcation or redetermination of boundaries
- Land ownership
- Land invasions/grabs
- Town planning
According to the Qaukeni Local Municipality SDF (2005), an estimated 11 672 households reside in formal dwellings, 282 households reside in informal dwellings and 32 894 reside in traditional dwellings. If this figure is computed in terms of housing backlog, there is a backlog figure of 33 502 households that require housing. The majority of these households reside in reside in rural areas.
The OR Tambo District Municipality prepared a Housing Plan for the district. Some of the challenges identified related to availability of land, bulk infrastructure and institutional capacity. The following are the key issues of this plan:
- There is uncontrollable growth of informal settlements without access to land, facilities and infrastructure;
- Development of housing is taking place without regard to economic opportunity and capacity of bulk infrastructure leading to inefficiencies, misplaced capital investment and unsustainable growth;
- There is a predominantly urban bias in housing development and due to limited capacity and delays in accessing land in certain areas, there is an imbalance in development performance across the province;
- There is a general lack of capacity in the District and local spheres of Government to implement and manage development, despite the fact that these structures are supposed to have the mandate of “Developmental Local Governance”;
- There is inadequate capacity to facilitate, monitor and co-ordinate the development of housing; and
- The Housing Policy, Norms and Standards are complex and not flexible in meeting diverse needs of urban and rural environments, escalating costs of materials and labour and growing expectations of the homeless.
Access to housing (or shelter) is one of the most important categories in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Without shelter a person’s dignity and right to privacy and safety is taken away. The government has prioritized access to housing as one of its key programs to improve the quality of life of the poor communities.