Sustainable Cities and Communities

Living Edition
| Editors: Walter Leal Filho, Anabela Marisa Azul, Luciana Brandli, Pinar Gökcin Özuyar, Tony Wall

Mapping Social and Spatial Practices in Human Settlements

  • Ang Jia Cong Email author
Living reference work entry


Mapping Social and Spatial Practices in Human Settlements

Refers to the process in which practices, data, and information collected on functions appropriated for physical, spatial, and social settings within an organized grouping of human habitation, such as an agglomeration of physical infrastructure to support human services, is presented in a manner for measurements, manipulation, and understanding. In the process of mapping and urban planning, it is essential to consider the social context and social situations which determine the link to relevant practice, impacting on societal development.

For the context of this contribution, mapping processes can often result in varied outcomes, a common example including thematic maps – a diagrammatic representation of an area of land or sea showcasing its physical features and objects, such as city boundaries, roads, urban spaces, facilities, etc. The representation can be in the form of drawings, diagrams, charts or other means deemed fit for the best representation of spatial information, delineating relationships between different spatial aspects. Spatial practices that are mapped could include the involvement and practice of different individuals and groups, including and not limited to the government, respective communities, urban planners, street development groups, real estate, contractors, youth, women, and others. Social practices could include the culture, education, institutions, lifestyles, physical environment, and health, among other considerations.

Human settlements are addressed by several disciplines, and definitions in one field can bear slightly different meanings in other fields. For example, demographers refer to urban areas as locations with high concentrations of people, economists and financial disciplines refer to them as areas with productive functions, while sociologists talk of people with specific modes of life. This work uses the term related to the built environment that addresses the quantification of the spatial extent of settlements and subcomponents. According to the United Nations (UN) Department for Economic and Social Information and Policy Analysis (1997), “The term human settlement is an integrative concept that comprises: (a) physical components of shelter and infrastructure; and (b) services to which the physical elements provide support, that is to say, community services such as education, health, culture, welfare, recreation and nutrition”. It can be defined as a city, town, village, locality or other agglomeration of buildings where people live and work, and/or the organized grouping of human habitation. A settlement conventionally includes facilities such as roads, enclosures, open spaces, boundaries, buildings, communities, etc.

Development of Human Settlements alongside Agenda 2030 and SDG 11

Human settlements are individual and interconnected systems, evolving in stages and with various complexities. According to the United Nations Human Settlement Programme (UN-Habitat), currently over 50% of the global population lives within urban cities, and this percentage is expected to reach 70% by 2050 (UN-Habitat 2013). This makes human settlements critical in achieving a sustainable future for the world. As cities intensify in urban and informal sprawl, or shift away from increasing and planned densities, they result in unsustainable land-use patterns. These human settlements are also responsible for producing 60% of global greenhouse gas emissions, 50% of global waste, and 80% of global gross domestic product (Ndugwa 2017). As such, there are certain responsibilities in guiding an area’s development, requiring social and spatial information that is robust and consistently improved.

The New Urban Agenda (NUA) is the first internationally formulated and agreed document by the United Nations that details the implementation of the urban dimensions of the SDGs (UN-Habitat 2017b). It proposes for a strong connection between the NUA and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, where city-level action encompasses many more areas beyond SDG 11. It also emphasizes the need to report on progress utilizing evidence driven, qualitative and quantitative data sets. SDG 11 on Sustainable Cities and Communities aims to “Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable” (UN General Assembly 2015, p.25). Its focused themes include access to affordable housing, infrastructure investments, sustainable transportation, public spaces, and sustainable buildings. A custodian of SDG 11, UN-Habitat’s mandate is to support member states in developing well-planned and efficient human settlements with adequate access to housing, infrastructure, livelihoods creation, and urban basic services (UN-Habitat 2002). It is becoming increasingly fundamental for governments, businesses, civil society, stakeholders, and citizens to be engaged collectively in pursuing objectives that ensure human settlements are more competitive, safe, resource efficient, resilient, and inclusive. A greater emphasis must be placed on the value of incorporating driven processes. A key area that focuses on the utilization of urban practices to achieve progress includes the importance of identifying and agreeing on the most sustainable ways to achieve targets, accelerating certain activities and ceasing others, building appropriate capacities, attracting finance, planning for infrastructure, mobility, management services, all of which contribute to a well-functioning settlement.

In this article, the focus of discussion is on mapping social and spatial practices. Mapped social practices can be simply described as information that reflects how individuals or societies interact and live in each context. Mapped spatial practices can be simply described as information that is defined by a geographic boundary or location. Both come in numerous forms. For example, target 11.1 states, “by 2030, ensure access for all to adequate safe, affordable housing and basic services and upgrade slums” (UN General Assembly 2015, p.25). The main features in the specific target would be dependent on spatial and social practices on city population, informal settlements, inadequate housing, and slums. In target 11.2.1., “Proportion of population that has convenient access to public transport, by sex, age and persons with disabilities” (UN General Assembly 2015, p.25), would be dependent on spatial and social practices mapped on public transport stops, city population, and built up area. In addition, the methods to estimate the proportion could be based on spatial analysis of built area, inventory of public transport stops, and estimation of urban area with and without access (Ndugwa 2017). To ensure that information and data sets reflected ensure that “No one” and “No place is left behind,” targeting resources where they are most needed, collected information on social and spatial elements are increasingly required to be disaggregated along cross-cutting sectors, including age, sex, disabilities, social groups, income levels, migratory statuses, and locations to name a few. Combinations of new data software also include the manipulation of statistics, big data, and earth and environmental observations that present new opportunities for SDG/NUA monitoring.

Characteristics of Mapping Human Settlements

For greater understanding, kindly find below the definitions of additional important expressions of the entry:
  1. (a)


    A general term used to describe the degree to which a product, device, service, or environment is available to as many people as possible. The physical access to a space or service is one of the components and the one used in this chapter.

  2. (b)


    Street connectivity refers to the density of connections in a street network and the directness of links. A well-connected street network has many short links, numerous intersections, and minimal cul-de-sacs. As connectivity increases, travel distances decrease and route options and travel modes increase, allowing more direct travel between destinations, creating a more accessible and resilient system.

  3. (c)


    An informal service, such as an informal market, refers to when the service is not per the prescribed or official regulations of the state. It is often not taxed, nor monitored by any form of government. Although it makes up for a significant portion of economies in developing countries, it is often stigmatized as troublesome and unmanageable. However, the informal sector provides critical economic opportunities for the poor and has been expanding rapidly.

  4. (d)


    Infrastructure refers to the fundamental facilities and systems serving a country, city, and other areas including the services and facilities necessary for its economy to function. It typically refers to technical structures, such as roads, bridges, water supply, sewers, electrical grids, and telecommunications. It is often described as the physical components of interrelated systems providing commodities and services essential to maintain, improve, and enable societal living conditions.

  5. (e)

    Urban Planning

    Urban planning is a technical and political process concerned with the development and use of land, planning permissions, protection and use of the environment, public welfare management, and design of the urban environment – including air, water, and infrastructure. Urban planning guides orderly development in urban, suburban, and rural areas (UN-Habitat 2012a).


Mapping Practices and Data Collection for Social/Spatial Planning

In this time and age, mapping technologies and practices are used widely to provide urban managers with information, answering the demands to fulfil numerous functional changes and development projections in human settlements, such as the identification of potential social problems or physical development alterations. This is especially so in relation to interconnected urban fabrics and services within these settlements which were previously difficult to obtain. Urban areas remain the medium which allow the dimensions of development to appear – social, cultural, economic, ecological, and more. Furthermore, places are filled with intangible material linked to the life experience of inhabitants, local knowledge being a “mode of place-based consciousness” (Escobar 2001, p.153). The process of mapping becomes a form of “social cartography” (Moore and Garzon 2010, title) within defined spatial contexts.

The increasing relevance and use of mapping practises has resulted in the emergence of new mapping technologies and solutions that have become fundamental to settlement development, spatial improvements, and urban planning processes. The utilization of adequate mapped spatial practice can contribute towards building of sustainable urban fabrics and communities when mapped data is utilized in the formulation of policies, practice, and implementation. Examples of such involve the utilization of open data sets and formats such as geographic information system (GIS) tools, features, etc., including maps or equivalent presentations that can be used as tools for communication to initiate discussions with different stakeholders, assisting in the visualization of potential changes in the human settlements. Carmen Mendoza Arroyo’s research within The Journal of Urbanism focused on regenerative potentials of settlements through the designing of a “civic network, an interrelated system of urban references derived from mapping of lived space through community urban actions” which resulted in a “proposal of strategic urban projects in accordance to the new civic grid” (Arroyo 2013, p.9). Mapping social and spatial data for planning processes had provided greater potential for settlements to operate more intelligently and improve the overall lives of their citizens.

Integrative Mapping with Community Participation

Traditionally, planning processes were conducted in a top-down fashion, with inadequate public participation in decision-making processes. Often, the lack of participation might even result in incorrect representation of census data, resulting in changes that do not answer to the needs of societies within settlements (Checkoway et al. 1995). Increasingly, new technologies and means of presentation have encouraged more community involvement, which is increasingly becoming essential in capturing comprehensive scope of spatial use, raising questions on needs, and including the eventual broadcasting of data with local community members (Day et al. 2011). Community participation in mapping has also risen in the twenty-first century as we enter a period of greater online or web-based participation and planning, including mobile and personal mapping devices such as smart phones and software, with more established tool development and research.

Innovative means and methods of involving more members of the public in decision-making processes, such as the planning of residential and public spaces and neighbourhoods, have taken on greater importance alongside the role of traditional urban planners (Breitbart 1995). Jiri Panek states that “GeoParticipation, as a concept which involves citizens in the community planning and decision-making process (Pánek 2016) via digital mapping methods, has been strengthened by the rise of Public Participation GIS (Dunn 2007) as well as the emergent field of neo-cartography (Rød et al. 2001; Cartwright 2012)” (Panek 2018, p.1). Mapped social and spatial practices can be increasingly used to explain the relevance of planning services to the public within human settlements. With the advent of greater resources, such as public participation support systems or computer-aided interviewing software and mapping platforms, communities can be equipped with tools to reflect and present their voices and needs in the practice of increasingly known “community-based” or “community development” approaches (Green and Haines 2008).

Methodologies for Mapping

Devise Mapping Framework

Urban planners and managers in both public and private sectors often employ data-led methodologies and mapping potentials to tackle the numerous arrays of issues that carry long-term implications for human settlements and surrounding landscapes. The development of a coherent analytical framework is most often recommended before mapping selected practices. The framework helps to ensure that consistent approaches are used and relevant to the study. Furthermore, the mapping framework is led by a selected set of key policy questions, drawing the relationship between social and spatial elements, such as the wellbeing of society to the urban environment. To measure the impact of the mapping information, and akin to the measurement of the implementation of the SDGs, specific indicators and targets can be created that stem from discussions on achieving policy guidelines.

For example, in the context of a human settlement or city’s urban growth and development, policy questions at the national level, accompanied with resultant indicators for measurement, often result in the recommendation towards the formulation of national planning guidelines. These guidelines would then ideally reflect the mapped practices and information that inform the economic direction and sectors of growth in the following planning, review, implementation, and monitoring periods. In this case, the indicators used to measure progress in targeting the urban legislation could be spatially explicit, and the underpinning data can be organized in a resultant capital accounting framework. Input from relevant stakeholders, experts, and policy units would contribute greatly to ensuring the final selection of indicators is relevant to inform the broad array of economic and development policies related to the projection of economic growth.

Utilizing Mapping Technologies and Practices

In recent years, very detailed social and spatial mapping software have been developed and made more widely available, providing opportunities that contribute towards updated forms of mapping, data mining, processing, and assessment. A few basic considerations for two or three-dimensional mapping include the following:

The Production of the Map at a Scale and Boundary Relevant to the Urban Phenomena

This is such that the data can be applied to the relevant context and utilized accordingly, effectively, and successfully, to improve the condition of the settlement or footprint. For instance, by performing land-use analyses, stakeholders can suggest development projects in areas that are more prone to vulnerabilities (e.g. natural disasters), or by synthesizing social and financial geographic information can promote the rejuvenation of areas that require greater economic growth. The mapped practices can also be synthesized in numerous visualizations, not limited to the following: graphical representation, interactive video, charts, graphics, two- or three-dimensional maps, cartography, vectors, atlases, timelines, etc. For social and spatial information, administrative boundaries were traditionally adhered to as an important means of map making; however, they were not the most meaningful in presenting inter-relational dynamics of urban phenomena. This was due to how the restrictions in settlement boundaries would often limit the value and utilization of the information, which could be captured through demarcating nontraditional boundaries and limits in mapping. A substantiated example is provided in the section “Boundaries for Global and City Level Monitoring and Its Implications”.

The Process to Update and Monitor Existing Geographical Data and Mapped Practices in Specific Locations with Monitoring Software

This allows for the mapped practices to be renewed and the process of collection and utilization to exceed expected durations. This is often the case for multi-year spatial planning strategies which would require longer term analyses for implementation. An example of which is the utilization of Esri’s GIS software, or web GIS, a system “designed to capture, store, manipulate, analyze, manage and present spatial or geographic data” (Clarke 1986, p.1). GIS is used widely in urban planning for continued analyses, geostatistics, coding, cartographic modeling, geometric networks, coordinate systems, registration, and visualization (Maliene et al. 2011). The means through which data is used could be via relating data from various sources such as aerial photography, remotely sensed data, surveys, scans, and satellite imaging to name a few, allowing users to gain detailed understanding on existing land fabric, infrastructure, and services (Ehrlich et al. 2015). GIS is unique in its potential to present mapped practices with different priorities and its data output, and multi-criteria decision analyzing and problem-solving utility – determining feasibility of projects, checking compliance, reviewing environmental impacts, preservation of sites, graphic display, data mining, regional and physical planning, mapping utilities delivery and so on (Morais 2017). The Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) is an example of an international industry using GIS comprising hundreds of companies, government agencies, and universities to develop publicly available geoprocessing information and data. Other means of geographic information manipulation include open source web mapping tools and components.

Adequate use of mapped social and spatial practices is important in modelling and decision-making. For instance, data derived from remote sending from field surveying, resulting in the production of lines and polygons for land use through raster (medium resolution remote sending images) or vector (high resolution satellite images) processes, can generally be converted into both quantitative and qualitative data (Lwin et al. 2012). Examples of such could include resource management, land type mapping, contour modelling, and growth monitoring. The production of quantitative land use maps, including from a scientific point of view, such as the study of forest and vegetation, can inform scientists who investigate environmental phenomena. For example, scientists could draw on land use maps alongside satellite imagery to visualize heat island effects in settlements (Lwin and Shibasaki 1998). The production of qualitative thematic maps, from an urban planning and policy making standpoint, can inform planners and representatives on the land use conditions of the area, such as for the calculation of road surface areas or urban green space walkability for the estimation of maintenance costs (Lwin and Murayama 2011).

The Potential for Ease of Use and Wide Accessibility of Mapped Practices for Users Who May Not Have the Relevant Expertise in Mapping

This prevents the discrimination of access to the mapped information, which could otherwise be beneficial for different users in understanding and contributing towards the social and spatial development within the human settlement in which they reside. Often, data mapping software, one such example being the Open Street Map, “a public collaborative project to create a free editable map of the world” (Open Street Map Foundation 2019), or other social media platforms, which are commonplace in post-millennium lives, can provide the layperson with an understanding of the needs of human settlements and their numerous qualities (density, communal spaces, accessibility, etc.). It can also be adapted to the visualization of smaller footprints and even informally planned settlements. New projects can be analyzed against existing infrastructure, and the wider public can suggest improvements, such as preferred locations for communal zones or resource access. There are increasingly fewer limitations on sharing information, as it has become a useful tool to tell a story, and for greater ease in understanding for constituents.

Translation of Mapped Information into Strategic Urban Policies and Projects

Resolution 42/187 of the United Nations General Assembly defined sustainable development as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs (UN General Assembly 1987). The purpose of urban planning and the process of mapping social and spatial urban phenomena is to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development, helping to build a responsive and resilient economy through land types supporting growth, promoting vibrant and healthy communities through high-quality built environments, including the provision of infrastructure, and to contribute to protecting and enhancing natural and built environments, mitigating and adapting to climate change.

With mapped information, local planning authorities can seek opportunities to meet development needs that are objectively assessed and reflect clear policies of the settlement. With policies approved and advocated, urban projects as part of local development can shape and direct development and the effective use of land and patterns of growth and conservation. Depending on the nature of urban projects, due to their magnitude or diversity in programs, both public and private funding can be sourced. Another crucial example of mapping spatial data also includes the identification of relevant stakeholders throughout the data collection processes, to encourage greater cohesiveness in formulation of networks to build and enhance existing physical and social ties in development. Often, project development enables multiple interagency collaborations through various actors and stakeholders while ensuring financial costs distribution between different sources.

Challenges and Solutions to Mapping

Despite its functionality, and the increasing need for social and spatial practice mapping and monitoring systems for the SDGs, NUA, and other global frameworks, there remain certain challenges that human settlements and their respective stakeholders may encounter in the process of mapping social and spatial practices. In this section, a brief discussion of concerns related to urban planning and development will be presented and debated with potential solutions. Due to the increasing and renewing potentials of data platforms and opportunities available, the selected solutions may be limited; readers are encouraged to pursue extended literature on additional elaborations.

Mapping Settlements with Numerous Urban Development Centers

In the scenario of mapping settlements which contain numerous cities, urban, or suburban centers, the mapping and monitoring process is often challenging. Should all the urban centers be mapped and monitored, the process would be highly technical and tedious, requiring all urban centers to be mapped individually and reported. In such cases, some countries would choose instead to monitor representative samples of their urban centers, and compare the mapped data between samples. In some cases, countries or cities can make use of existing samples of cities that are made available online or through open data sources. These data bases can be helpful to measure against samples that already exist, and can be compared to that representative sample of the country. One such example is utilizing the National Sample of Cities approach (UN-Habitat 2012b). This platform can be used to harmonize urban data and indicators against several cities that are statistically representative of the national level baseline.

Managing Several Indicators at Different Scales

In many human settlements, social and spatial practices that need to be mapped often branch across several indicators, themes, and focuses (SDGs 11.2: Public Transportation, 11.3: Land Consumption, 11.4: Cultural Heritage, 11.6: Solid Waste and Air Quality, 11.7: Public Space etc.) (UN General Assembly 2015). The data collection process would require a large pool of resources and take up long durations. In some situations, there remain debatable variations in understanding of indicators at different levels. To address the complications, key policies can be used to guide and rank indicators in terms of relevance to the settlement. Thereafter, an integrated and systematic mapping system can be used to provide data relevant to more than one indicator. Beyond using SDG indicators, countries can assist in the aggregation of locally produced and contextually relevant indicators and national targets. Furthermore, countries can seek to create a platform for the unified methodology for reporting, which could be in the form of creating systematic disaggregation of mapped practices at the national, subnational, city-wide, and neighborhood levels. These strategies can assist in the effective collection, distribution, and utilization of data for specific social and spatial development projects.

Boundaries for Global and City Level Monitoring and Its Implications

To effectively measure and monitor development in any country or settlement, it is necessary to create geographical boundaries for mapping practices and information. This can be understood to be separate from political boundaries, which are often restrictive and unable to reflect the greater relationship of social and economic systems of study. Zones can be delineated with specific functions for data collection, e.g., Metropolitan zones are areas within cities that contain the highest build-up of urban fabric, may contain residential and industrial suburbs in proximity, and would utilize extensive daily transportation and commute resources radiating from an urban core. The development core and its transportation facilities would form the metropolitan area. In addition, these zoning procedures help to define cities and their numerous functions, such as built-up areas, non-residential areas, and wall-bordered historical centers (Ndugwa 2017). It also helps to narrow down practices to be collected within these zones, e.g. total population density and dwellings, or the total distribution of open green space within the urban zones. The meaningful and intended zoning and its subsequent data reflections contribute to developing the identity of the human settlement, strengthening the development potential for projects and encouraging greater cross border partnerships.

Formulating Urban Policies Derived from Mapped Data

Perhaps the most challenging process in the stages of mapping practices is in drawing relevant results and the subsequent translation into key policy and development messages. Despite mapping no longer being pioneering, and most government authorities and leaders often encompassing adequate level of capacity to make informed decisions for the long-term, it remains fundamental for policymakers to seek greater knowledge opportunities to understand the range of utilities and its impact on development projects. Greater emphasis should also be placed on the utilization of tools that use data to measure the sustainability of settlements, their projected growth, and global policies that could be relevant and applied to local contexts. The City Prosperity Initiative is a global initiative that is meant to assist leaders in designing effective policy interventions, through the identification, quantification, and evaluation of progress on agendas, as well as systematizing the monitoring and reporting process. Furthermore, it can be used as a tool for the implementation of the SDGs at local levels, integrating the indicators that can feed into national policies and frameworks targeting future growth (UN-Habitat 2015).

In addition, some quick-win solutions could easily bridge gaps in the utilization and sharing of mapped practices that can ultimately result in relevant solutions for communities. They are presented in these examples:
  • Sharing mapped practices could be in the form of creating neutral platforms to jointly analyse, discuss, and act on urban functionality and development.

  • An effective focus for development managers could be to use technological expertise to build the capacity of building owners, to deliver improved efficiencies in buildings and sharing data on building performance.

  • Governments and stakeholders can work towards collaborations to generate solutions for future development projects. For instance, future-oriented and carbon-sensitive transportation and mobility strategies to minimize total environmental impact, while making urban environments more accessible, affordable, and safer for all.

  • Private sector finance investments can work on mapping practices to devise strategies to support integrated and sustainable development, such as low carbon projects and more resilient infrastructure.

In the next section, a case study on mapping social and spatial practices to guide the development of a new settlement is presented. Therein, used information mapping processes and specific software are described, presenting their applications towards capturing practices from specific urban phenomena and their relevant contexts. The background of the case study is also rooted in growing concern regarding increasing refugee and migrant influx into developing and impoverished nations, resulting in the demand for greater resource allocation, provision of socioeconomic solutions, and an emphasis on long-term sustainable solutions, aligned with the SDGs (primarily 11, but with linkages to others) and Agenda 2030.

Case Study: Mapping for a New Settlement, Kenya

Planning for a New Settlement

This section refers to the social and spatial mapping processes that led to the proposed advisory development plan of a settlement in Turkana County, Kenya. This case study seeks to illustrate the mapping methodologies used in the context of a developing county facing the influx of large populations of refugees into hosting communities over decades, and the formation of a settlement to host them. The worsening global refugee crisis has been brought forth by new forms of conflict and reemerging disturbances in major world regions, placing increasing emphasis on developing solutions to cater to the needs of refugee-development districts or hosting cities. By the end of 2015, Kenya was ranked seventh in the world in terms of the number of refugees it hosted – 553,900. Kakuma refugee camp was opened in 1992 to host a maximum population of 100,000 people, with extensions added subsequently. Over the years, the population grew to about 161,725 people by the end of 2016, representing a 60% higher population than the camp was planned to accommodate. In June 2015, 1,500 ha of land were allocated to jointly mobilize resources for a new settlement project to host an approximate 60,000 people – refugees and host communities alike (UN-Habitat and UNHCR 2016). The analyses of results herein reflect informed planning decisions.

Challenges and Scope of Mapping

The main objectives of an overarching baseline survey and mapping were to generate social, economic, and spatial practices and data of host and refugee populations to better understand the larger planning contexts. In Turkana, the primary challenge faced includes the competition for access to resources, such as in the semiarid region. As the county is also considered one of the least developed in Kenya, hosting communities live in poverty and continue traditional practices of nomadism. Due to the nature of migration, previously temporary settlements and shelters also require remodeling towards more durable, environmentally suitable infrastructures. This is further exacerbated by challenges faced primarily from differing social practices between host and refugee societies living near to one another, resulting in growing tension. Some key objectives included and were not limited to analyzing the current land-use of different populations; existing housing typologies and settlement patterns, including residential systems and areas of economic activity and leisure; analyzing current environmental surroundings with access to roads, infrastructure, and basic services; undertaking an economic survey to attain business activities of populations; developing an integrated web GIS system to manage and support the manipulation of collected data sets.

Methodologies for Mapping Social and Economic Practices

The baseline surveys and mapping were conducted at micro, meso, and macro scales, with business and household questionnaires and interviews. A mixed method approach was adopted. Mapping of various interest indicators such as public utilities was done through location based field survey methods – GPS and key informant interviews. Participatory planning approaches were used to map grazing patterns, based on local traditional knowledge passed down through generations. In addition, satellite image analysis was used to understand settlement patterns over time and to support the identification of land uses.

Results were collected at household and business levels through questionnaires undertaken by youth sourced from different communities. A stratified random sampling technique was used to identify respondents at two levels. Multilayered stratification was used to disaggregate the total population into uniform and homogenous clusters. Out of the sorting process, three layers were identified: – nature of respondent, settlement characteristics, and nationality. Ratios were calculated based on a determined sample size for the entire study. The identification of the total sample size was also informed by an extensive literature review of other related studies, in which the sample size ranged between 200 and 600 respondents (UN-Habitat and UNHCR 2016).

Methodologies for Mapping Spatial Practices

The process of mapping socio-spatial practices at macro and meso levels utilized a mix of key informant sources on top of satellite mapping. Local experts mapped the widespread migration and grazing patterns popular among the largely pastoralist community. At the micro level, primary data collection was conducted through the administration of household or business questionnaires and facilities mapping. Five mapping assistants deployed collected mapped practices on thematic aspects including but not limited to health, water, and public spaces.

The resultant mapped practices were fed into achieving the vision of a sustainably integrated settlement, with three key areas of intervention:
  • Formulation of a development plan which would act as policy, and guiding framework to develop the new settlement in line with local county and national development goals.

  • Local capacity development and livelihoods improvement for host and refugee communities.

  • Formulation and enactment of a strategy to enhance the managerial capacity of local governance structures to both enforce and monitor settlement growth.


Over time, information-based strategies are presenting themselves to become formal alternatives. The revolution of mapped data, technologies, and practices, coupled with innovation of quicker networks, mature analytics, and useful devices, can encourage human settlements to have the foresight to solve existing problems more effectively than before. Currently, durable and smart software and technologies provide settlements the options and ability to map, sort, and visualize urban changes. This is a clear shift away from the traditional methods of solving urban crisis which were often top-down in approach, extremely costly, slow, and less effective.

Such as in the case study for Kenya, socio-economic and spatial mapping surveys consolidate practices to address several concerns relating to the distribution of human capital, provision of economic opportunities and livelihoods, physical infrastructure, and issues with regards to basic services and needs. In this context, through addressing possible conflict areas through the mapping process, national representations and stakeholders should also be encouraged to recommend and embrace open dialogue with communities, utilizing strong participatory processes, creating a sense of familiarity and building trust. The resultant data from mapping practices is fed into the development of spatial development strategies. As cities continue to grow and expand, countries should aim towards the development of greater quality of life and to achieve a balanced physical economic and governance structure to ensure long-term sustainability.

Annual social and spatial evaluations of human settlements should also be encouraged further, mapping practices and providing information for future programs, such as through the measuring of the level of impact, addressing implementation of planned targets and indicators, alongside alignments towards Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals (in particular SDG 11). The emphasis on human settlements such as in the NUA provides an acknowledgement of a greater need to address challenges by cities. Mapped spatial practices and information can also be used to inform development project reviews, introduce greater management measures, and extend development projects, a monitoring solution acting as the pivot holding the key to the success of the settlement’s continued growth, commercial viability, and functions.

All stakeholders and representatives have a role to play in this crucial process. Regardless of the improvements in technological advancements in data accumulation and manipulation, it remains fundamental for strong leadership in human settlements to guide planning processes. In the increasingly interconnected world, projects from other settlements and previous examples will increasingly play beneficial roles in terms of equipping future development situations with foresight and allowing the empowerment of the community to participate in these various development projects to attain greater prosperity in human settlements.



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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Independent ResearcherSingaporeSingapore

Section editors and affiliations

  • Luciana Brandli
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Passo FundoPasso FundoBrazil