The Impacts of Peri-Urban Expansion on Municipal and Ecosystem Services: Experiences from Makhado Biaba Town, South Africa

E. Ingwani, M. Thynell, L. R. Gurure, N. G.A. Ekelund, T. Gumbo, P. Schubert, V. Nel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The sub-Saharan cities are growing and changing due to immigration and modernization. One of the consequences of the current urbanization is that an increasing number of families residing in peri-urban areas of small rural towns lack access to basic municipal and ecosystem services. The purpose of the paper is to demonstrate the impacts of peri-urban expansion on municipal services provided by the governments and on ecosystems services through a case study of a small rural town called Makhado Biaba in Limpopo Province of South Africa. Makhado Biaba has been experiencing incessant rapid physical expansion over the years. Such spatial expansion into the peri-urban zone impacts the provision of municipal services such as water, electricity, sewerage, and refuse collection. In 2020, an exploratory mixed-methods study of some anthropocentric and ecosystem changes in Makhado Biaba Local Municipality in northeast South Africa was executed. Land use was mapped for the time period of 1990–2020, data were gathered through a household questionnaire in six villages, and interviews were held with municipal officials. Among others, the study showed that several municipal services are available in the peri-urban villages of Makhado Biaba Town despite the distant locations outside the urban core. However, services are not uniformly distributed due to that new peri-urban developments that are leapfrogging into vacant land without supporting infrastructure. The pace of the municipality in providing the necessary municipal services such as water and energy supply, as well as sanitation and refuse removal, is lagging behind the development of new and unplanned housing areas. The findings bring about information about the suburban livelihoods and how the administration of the peri-urban areas can respond to the needs of the inhabitants as well as to future challenges. For instance, to facilitate local development, recurrent and well-structured citizen dialogs with local groups to identify delivery failures are strongly recommended. In addition, the impact on ecosystem services by the city development and land use change stresses the need for guided urban development and expansion and also settlement upgrading programs in peri-urban zones to limit the bad effect on ecosystem services.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-327
Number of pages31
JournalUrban Forum
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2024


  • Ecosystem services
  • Makhado Biaba Town
  • Peri-urban
  • Public services
  • Rural villages
  • South Africa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Urban Studies


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