Small towns across South Africa will contribute massively to regional and rural development, as the country implements the Integrated Urban Development Framework (IUDF).
“The small town regeneration programme is an important contribution to the implementation of our National Development Plan (NDP), and specifically our Integrated Urban Development Framework,” said Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Deputy Minister Andries Nel.
He was speaking at the third Karoo Small Towns Regeneration Conference in Graaf-Reinet on Tuesday.
He said small towns can contribute to regional and rural development by becoming centres of “demand/markets for agricultural produce from the rural region either for local consumers or as links to national and export markets”.
“Access to markets is a prerequisite to increase rural agricultural incomes, and the proximity of local small and intermediate centres to production areas is assumed to be a key factor,” Nel said.
It is envisioned that the towns could also act as centres for the production and distribution of goods and services to rural regions.
“Such concentration is assumed to reduce costs and improve access to a variety of services, both public and private, and for both rural households and enterprises.
“Hence, services include agricultural extension, health and education (and access to other government services), as well as banking, post, services of professionals such as lawyers and accountants, lower-order services such as bars and restaurants, and wholesale and retail sales of manufactured goods from within and outside the region,” Nel said.
Announcing the country’s stimulus package in September, President Cyril Ramaphosa outlined various agriculture interventions.
These include a package of support measures for black commercial farmers, blended finance mobilised from the Land Bank, Industrial Development Corporation and commercial banks as well as government granting 30-year leases.
Nel said the interventions tied in with Cogta’s Karoo Small Town Regeneration Initiative as part of the Agrarian Revolution Programme, which seeks to ensure that support is provided to communities to make good use of land through agricultural interventions.
“The major focus is to create technical capacity at district level to support the agrarian revolution, a one-stop-shop where departments and municipalities are represented,” Nel said.
The IUDF is being implemented through the Cities Support Programme, the Intermediate City Municipalities Programme and the Small Town Regeneration Programme administered by the South African Local Government Association (Salga).
All three programmes are led by National Treasury, Cogta and Salga, respectively.
“Small towns are a necessary and important link to the development of rural regions and the role of small towns as service centres, within a hierarchy of settlements, is emphasised,” Nel said.
The Karoo Small Towns Regeneration Initiative, Nel said, is important because it provides a platform to test these policies in a more focused and coordinated manner. – SAnews.gov.za