South Africa adheres to global Sustainable Development initiatives, and acknowledges through its 2006 draft publication A Strategic Framework for Sustainable Development in South Africa (NFSD) that the Government through various Acts has a legally binding obligation to take responsibility for the environment, the economy and society. In applying these principles as an emerging nation, South Africa is subject to the experiences inherent in Third World development, and the multitude of obstacles that this may deliver. It is a large country with a varied and conflicted history, and the implementation of sustainable principles at ground level has placed substantial pressure on Local Governments to facilitate the globally originating commitments through their daily activities.
The Constitution specifically places a duty on Municipalities to fulfill their mandate of service provision to local communities in a sustainable manner, but the NFSD states that it was acknowledged in 2005 that debilitating incapacities at Local Government level were the result of service delivery failures, and therefore these objectives were not being met. This paper explores whether the Earth Observation technology Geographical Information Systems (GIS) could make a significant contribution to rectifying these inconsistencies, and facilitating Sustainable Development within the local governance sector in South Africa.
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