By Grant Stokoe


Small town regeneration (STR) is becoming an important topic of conversation in recent years. As urbanization continues to ramp up in South Africa, many smaller towns are left with fewer people and less support to continue their own growth and development.

There are already strategies in place for STR, but local governments are calling for a restructuring of the policies.

The divide between urban and rural areas has created “spatial fragmentation, racial and social division, poorly developed public services and infrastructure, periodic protests about poor municipal service delivery and failing local economies” (STR 2021).

Unfortunately, local authorities are ill equipped to combat the problems listed above. There must be continued accountability on the part of larger governments to assist smaller ones.

As outlined by the Small Town Regeneration Strategy 2021, there are three overarching changes that must be made in order to continue and improve STR. SA must “(1) invest more in major cities to accommodate migrants and to avoid worsening urban poverty; (2) sustain (or expand) investment in small towns to provide poor rural households with employment and income opportunities; and (3) due to the stronger connections to the rural poor, invest in towns and secondary cities” (STR 2021).

Implementation of these strategies must incorporate the apparent differences between urban and rural areas. Clearly, both areas are fundamentally different with regard to development as a whole and the influence of sustainable practices.

To achieve an overall transformation of small towns to become more sustainable and developed, the National Spatial Development Framework (NSDF) and Integrated Urban Development Framework (IUDF) must be created like-minded strategies to be implemented by the government.

Moreover, once alternative strategies are put in place and governments take action on their proposals, small towns will begin to change their course to a more inclusive and sustainable society.


Source: “Small Town Regeneration Strategy, 2021.” Department: Cooperative Governance. Republic of South Africa.

Image: Greyton, WC

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