Scopes and deficits of Participatory GIS in municipalities in the central Karoo


Haubold, A (2012), Scopes and deficits of Participatory GIS in municipalities in the central Karoo, MSc thesis, Geographisches Institut der Rheinischen Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität, Bonn.


1. Introduction 

1.1 Defining the problem 

GIS provides a common language for discussion and acts as a means to bring people together in the decision-making process.” (CRAIG ET AL. 2002, p. 308)

This quote is taken from Jack Dangermond, the co-founder of the Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI), a very successful commercial software vendor. It highlights one of the most important aspects relevant for this thesis: communication and decision-making.

This diploma thesis is about the linkage between public participation and the use of Geographic Information Systems (PGIS) in South Africa. Research will focus especially on opportunities to integrate participation with GIS usage. The civil movement against the Shell Exploration Company B. V., a registered company of Royal Dutch Shell plc South Africa, which has applied for exploration rights of shale gas resources in the central Karoo region, will be used as a case study to examine potential scopes and deficits of participatory GIS.

During the exploration application process, a moratorium was announced by the minister of the Department of Mineral Resources, Susan Shabangu, which was prolonged once and is, at the time of writing, still in force. This moratorium halts all current application requests and supposedly allows the minister and the cabinet of the Republic of South Africa to investigate the contested issue in depth. It is yet unclear how the minister’s commissioned task team is going to decide, but signs are pointing to a recommendation in favour of shale gas exploration.


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