GAUTENG COMPREHENSIVE RURAL DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY
The Gauteng Provincial Government changed the name of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Environment (GDACE) to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (GDARD) when government added rural development to its mandate. Rural development is regarded as a backbone of development globally. Developing countries are increasingly discovering that, if rural communities are properly empowered, they can and may manage their own local development efforts. However, the existence of rural poverty provides major challenges to governments and the developmental agencies around the world, and South Africa is no exception.
DEFINITION OF RURAL DEVELOPMENT
The term rural development is ambiguous and used in different ways. There is no exact definition of a rural area but rural areas are clearly recognisable. Rural areas constitute spaces where human settlement and infrastructure occupy only small patches of the landscape, most of which is dominated by fields and pastures, woods and forest, water, mountain and desert. Rural people usually live in farmsteads or settlements of 5 -10 000 persons, but national distinctions between rural and urban areas is arbitrary and varies. The majority of rural poor live in areas that are resource-poor, highly heterogeneous, and risk prone.
Rural development is a cross-cutting function that calls for all stakeholders to participate in conceptualising, planning, developing, implementing and monitoring development interventions whether at legislative, policy or strategy level or project or activity implementation level. Rural development is everybody’s business. Therefore, it is important that all stakeholders, particularly the intended beneficiaries and financial risk-taking partners, be consulted and involved in the whole process of development in rural areas.
KEY PILLARS OF RURAL DEVELOPMENT
The Gauteng Employment Growth and Development Strategy (GEGDS) has five strategic pillars, which represent a clustering of the drivers (policies, programmes or projects) developed by government to achieve the strategic objectives of the (GEGDS, and the vision and strategic priorities of the province. One of the five strategic pillars is Sustainable Communities and Social Cohesion, which has the following drivers: spatial planning (cross-cutting); sustainable mobility; safe communities; and rural and agricultural development and food security. Rural development falls within the Rural and Agricultural Development driver.
Objectives of rural development
The main objective of the Gauteng Comprehensive Rural Development Strategy is to ensure the province achieves Outcome 7 (to create vibrant, equitable and sustainable rural communities and to ensure food security for all becomes a living reality to the millions of people of Gauteng). Rural development is about enabling rural people to take control of their lives and destiny so that together with other social partners, rural people may directly confront the problems of poverty and underdevelopment in a way that suits them best.
Key aim of the launch of Gauteng Comprehensive Rural Development Strategy
The key aim of the launch of the Gauteng Comprehensive Rural Development Strategy is to mobilize support from everyone. GDARD is joining hands with all the government departments in Gauteng, which have already pledged their commitment and cooperation towards implementing the Gauteng Comprehensive Rural Development Strategy successfully.
Projects that GDARD will roll out under GCRDS
The Comprehensive Rural Development Strategy (CRDS) is a national programme. There are four rural nodes in Gauteng. While these are the focal point of implementing the strategy for now, it is important to note that rural development in Gauteng will go beyond these areas. It is proposed that a three-phase rural development approach be adopted in the province as we, together with our social partners, implement interventions and programmes to revitalise and deracialise the rural economy. GDARD’s role in promoting rural development includes a three-phase roll-out of rural development projects. The first phase will develop basic infrastructure that supports human survival and the second phase will promote and facilitate the development of the economic investment infrastructure. The third phase will promote and develop small and medium industries and businesses.
Rural Development requires partnerships in and outside government. One institutional structures is the Provincial Council of Stakeholders that represents all interests groups and is chaired by GDARD MEC on behalf of the Premier of Gauteng Province. Another institution is the Intergovernmental Rural Development Committee chaired by the GDARD HOD and comprising representatives from all provincial government departments and municipalities in Gauteng. A grassroots institution will be set up at ward level. All these institutional structures will feed into the Provincial Council, which is the highest decision-making institution on rural development issues at provincial level.