Cities in Afghanistan have been rapidly urbanized; however, many parts of these cities have been developed with no detailed land use plan or infrastructure. In other words, they have been informally developed without any government leadership. The new government started the In-situ Upgrading Project in Kabul to upgrade roads, the water supply network system, and the surface water drainage system on the existing street layout in 2002, with the financial support of international agencies. This project is an appropriate emergency improvement for living life, but not an essential improvement of living conditions and infrastructure problems because the life expectancies of the improved facilities are as short as 10–15 years, and residents cannot obtain land tenure in the unplanned areas. The Land Readjustment System (LRS) conducted in Japan has good advantages that rearrange irregularly shaped land lots and develop the infrastructure effectively. This study investigates the effects of the In-situ Upgrading Project on private investment, land prices, and residents’ satisfaction with projects in Kart-e-Char, where properties are registered, and in Afshar-e-Silo Lot 1, where properties are unregistered. These projects are located 5 km and 7 km from the CBD area of Kabul, respectively. This study discusses whether LRS should be applied to the unplanned area based on the questionnaire and interview responses of experts experienced in the In-situ Upgrading Project who have knowledge of LRS. The analysis results reveal that, in Kart-e-Char, a lot of private investment has been made in the construction of medium-rise (five- to nine-story) buildings for commercial and residential purposes. Land values have also incrementally increased since the project, and residents are commonly satisfied with the road pavement, drainage systems, and water supplies, but dissatisfied with the poor delivery of electricity as well as the lack of public facilities (e.g., parks and sport facilities). In Afshar-e-Silo Lot 1, basic infrastructures like paved roads and surface water drainage systems have improved from the project. After the project, a few four- and five-story residential buildings were built with very low-level private investments, but significant increases in land prices were not evident. The residents are satisfied with the contribution ratio, drainage system, and small increase in land price, but there is still no drinking water supply system or tenure security; moreover, there are substandard paved roads and a lack of public facilities, such as parks, sport facilities, mosques, and schools. The results of the questionnaire and interviews with the four engineers highlight the problems that remain to be solved in the unplanned areas if LRS is applied—namely, land use differences, types and conditions of the infrastructure still to be installed by the project, and time spent for positive consensus building among the residents, given the project’s budget limitation.
It is the living conditions in the cities that determine the future of our livelihood. “To change life, we must first change space"- Henri Lefebvre. Sustainable development is a utopian aspiration for South African cities (especially the case study of the Gauteng City Region), which are currently characterized by unplanned growth and increasing urban sprawl. While the reasons for poor environmental quality and living conditions are undoubtedly diverse and complex, having political, economical and social dimensions, it is argued that the prevailing approach to layout planning in South Africa is part of the problem. This article seeks a solution to the problem of sustainability, from a spatial planning perspective. The spatial planning tool, the urban development boundary, is introduced as the concept that will ensure empty talk being translated into a sustainable vision. The urban development boundary is a spatial planning tool that can be used and implemented to direct urban growth towards a more sustainable form. The urban development boundary aims to ensure planned urban areas, in contrast to the current unplanned areas characterized by urban sprawl and insufficient infrastructure. However, the success of the urban development boundary concept is subject to effective implementation measures, as well as adequate and efficient management. The concept of sustainable development can function as a driving force underlying societal change and transformation, but the interface between spatial planning and environmental management needs to be established (as this is the core aspects underlying sustainable development), and authorities needs to understand and implement this interface consecutively. This interface can, however, realize in terms of the objectives of the planning tool – the urban development boundary. The case study, the Gauteng City Region, is depicted as a site of economic growth and innovation, but there is a lack of good urban and regional governance, impacting on the design (layout) and function of urban areas and land use, as current authorities make uninformed decisions in terms of development applications, leading to unsustainable urban forms and unsustainable nodes. Place and space concepts are thus critical matters applicable to planning of the Gauteng City Region. The urban development boundary are thus explored as a planning tool to guide decision-making, and create a sustainable urban form, leading to better environmental and living conditions, and continuous sustainability.