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Let’s fix it: The regeneration of rural communities

  • 18 May 2022
  • 1427
  •  press-release

In the fourth session of Nation in Conversation at Nampo Bothaville, the focus was on the regeneration of rural communities and facilitator Theo Vorster engaged a panel of experts on some community projects that have made a difference, as well as how these projects can set an example for others to follow.

The panel of experts consisted of Barend la Grange (Privilege Foundation), Lennox Plaatjies (PALS), Chris Burgess (Landbouweekblad) and Theo Boshoff (Agbiz).

Rural regeneration is not a pipedream

According to Plaatjies the agricultural sector is the main economic driver in rural communities and therefore it only makes sense that the sector leads the way in rural development and upliftment. This sentiment is echoed by Boshoff who says that where business chambers and organised agri-businesses comes together with a common vision, there is a massive visible difference.

For La Grange all is not lost although the current atmosphere in South Africa is one of negativity and pessimism. He reckons that a crisis serves as fertile soil for regeneration and development and refers to the Coligny (2017) and Senekal (2020) political unrests as examples. These communities came together and worked hard to make their towns investment friendly by implementing the CRPP method: Cleaning, Repairing, Painting and Planting. He goes on to say that as South Africans we all have a choice to make, we can either be active citizens or passive users of democracy.

Collaboration between individuals and farming communities, partnerships and open communication lines can, according to Chris Burgess short circuit political opportunists and as an example he reflects on how the Hluhluwe community stood together during the KwaZulu-Natal riots in 2021. In light of this he advocates for giving more airtime and prominence to the builders of communities.

Partnerships at grassroots level are important

All panellists were in agreement that a foundation of trust is necessary for regeneration to take place effectively. It is however important to note that by stepping up and taking responsibility and ownership of a community do not mean that local government structures should be bypassed.

Boshoff explains that local government structures are tasked with creating enabling environments in which change can be driven. Lennox adds that development should at all times be all-inclusive, community-based and upwards.

The way forward

When talking about the next three to five years, the panellist all agree that success stories should be replicated far and wide as they have the potential to become the norm. Inclusive growth is therefore the result of like-minded people coming together and forging meaningful partnerships that champions economic and social development.

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