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Coronavirus reveals’green apartheid’ in South African cities


Johannesburg (Thomson Reuters Foundation)-When the park is closed, a new coronavirus takes over to reveal green apartheid lurking in South African cities, Lockdown protects millions of homes, and only lucky people are sanctuaries Had a garden for

Satellite images show that this inequality is devastating almost all South African cities, and poor, mostly black dwellers are greener and safer from a deadly virus over social distances. There are fewer options to keep.

“Everyone should have a right to green space,” Zander, a spatial ecologist at the Norwegian Institute of Nature, and lead author of the Green Apartheid study published in July in Landscape and Urban plan. Venter said.

“Not having it is a human rights violation that began with colonialism and apartheid, and today the government failed to remedy this spatial inequality,” Venter told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a telephone interview. ..

Green spaces help cool the city, clean the air, filter water, and generally help promote better emotional and psychological health for city residents, Venter said.

According to the Barcelona Global Health Institute, people living in green areas tend to live longer.

Using satellite images and census data, Venter was able to support the hypothesis he cooked when he grew up in South Africa. That inequality also existed in access to nature.

A study found that the “white” areas were near 700 meters to public parks, with nearly 12% more trees and 9% more vegetation than areas primarily occupied by blacks.

South Africa’s largest city, Johannesburg is called one of the largest plantations in the world, with its Jacaranda-lined streets, lush dog parks, and large gardens in its suburbs.

Compare this mainly to black townships and informal settlements with few trees and dusty roads.

The crowded, informal settlements of Cape Town’s tourist hub are located around the city, away from lush mountain trails and lush promenades along the Atlantic Ocean.

Ayanda Rosie, the city’s chief researcher at the park in Johannesburg, said a greening project was underway, but the “colonialism/apartheid third and a half century” took time to respond.

City upgrade

Apartheid planners are using green spaces, highways, and railroads to separate racial groups, and their heritage is revealed today, says Robyn Park-Ross of Ndifuna Ukwazi, a housing rights group. States.

“This means that our parks and green spaces are not neutral spaces. They were designed as part of a system to keep people apart,” Park-Ross commented in an email. did.

Parks can be a crime hotspot in some areas and pose a risk to women crossing the park, Park-Ross said.

Even in the graveyard, police recorded reports of rape and robbery when the mourners visited the grave of their loved one.

According to the 2017 Women, Peace and Security Index, which measures safety in 153 countries, less than 3 in 10 South African women feel safe to walk at night.

“This means that not only is the distance required to travel to access the park defined by race and class, but the experience and ability to enjoy the space is also important,” Park said. -Ros said.

Some successes are notched up to make your precious greens safer. Park-Ross lists organizations that fight crime by building urban upgrade violence prevention-community gardens, neighborhood watch groups, and more.

“Design was used as a tool to separate our cities, but now we need to deal with the inequalities of systems where these spaces become unsafe and make them work,” she says. Said.


Across the continent, green infrastructure is considered retrofit in countries where budgets are thin to cover basic things like housing, sanitation, and electricity, according to Rosie of Johannesburg City Parks. ..

“This is why we have a partnership,” Rosi said, citing women-led park rehabilitation and outdoor gym and food garden plans.

The ability to “green” is essential to create the best space for everyone, Percross said.

“Defensive buildings” such as the pointed cactuses used to deter homeless or resident-only parks are examples of Park-Ros that failed to green.

Ventor said inclusive projects could, on the contrary, increase resistance to future virus outbreaks.

“A network of green infrastructure facilitates social distances and helps people relieve stress in a healthy and safe way,” Venter said. “This can be a huge advantage in situations like future pandemics.”

Report by Kim Harrisberg @ Edited by KimHarrisberg, Lyndsay Griffiths. The Thomson Reuters Foundation, a Thomson Reuters charity, covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit


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