Eco-Villages for Rural Renewal: briefing

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Meeting report

HOUSING PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
16 October 2002
ECO-VILLAGES FOR RURAL RENEWAL: BRIEFING

Chairperson:
Ms Z Kota (ANC)

Documents Handed Out:
Eco-villages for Economic Viability and Sustainability in Rural Renewal

SUMMARY
The Committee was briefed on the concept of eco-villages by Inter-Afrika Plan, a town planning group. This is a new concept but was said to be a good solution for addressing service delivery problems in the rural areas of the country. Members expressed concern about the sustainability of the project and on issues of food security, amongst others.

MINUTES
Mr Anthony Trowbridge: Inter Afrika Plan town planning group, conducted a presentation on the issue of eco-villages. He pointed out that eco-villages are good for economic viability and economic sustainability in rural development initiatives. He noted that in terms of housing provision, South Africa is way behind developed countries.

As such the delivery of services in an equitable manner for scattered households is a great difficulty. The best possible solution herein becomes the concept of eco-villages, which would operate as a magnet to attract economic activity.

He informed the Committee that the creation of an eco-village has the full support of, for instance, the West Rand municipality including the Mogale Municipal area. He also pointed out that with the help of Technikon South Africa, the concept of a possible cycle of sustainable rural development for growth and prosperity with eco-villages has been developed. He added that village banking is based on a communal way of contribution and pooling of funds for local development. A successful women's project outside Zeerust in the North-West encouraged them to embrace this concept. As a result, they put together a proposal to the Word Bank.

Discussion
Mr Schneeman (ANC) asked where these villages are being put into practice, given the awards they have won for the project. If these villages are not in place, why was this so?
This question was not answered.

Ms Mgcina (ANC) asked where in the Eastern Cape was he referring to and secondly, how do they train the people on a concept such as this?

Mr Trowbridge explained that the areas in the Eastern Cape are the Tsolo and Umsobomvu River Base and training is done through Technikon South Africa.

Mr Makhaba (ANC) asked which part of Orange farm he was referring to.
Mr Trowbridge pointed out that this is Unit 102 by the hillside.

Mr Skhosana (ANC) asked how they are going to sustain the project in the light of changing social and economic dynamics. For instance, if a factory or mining establishment emerges to absorb the potential employees in the area.

Mr Trowbridge pointed out that regarding sustainability, the use of a database with skills and competencies listing of the residents is central to the eco-village. Similarly, people with common business interests, for example, can be pooled together so that they can collectively pursue their interests as a group.

A Member asked which project he started has been implemented so far.

Mr Trowbridge pointed out that whilst no project he has started has been implemented thus far, they regard the success of the Zeerust women's village bank as an encouraging development.

The Chair asked how their group links up with the Department of Agriculture on food security.

Regarding the linkage with Agriculture, Mr Trowbridge pointed out that in the past two weeks he met with the Agricultural Council and they discussed ways in which agriculture can make an input into the project.

Mr Montsitsi (ANC) noted that the concept being presented here is something that should have been achieved through comprehensive and sustainable development initiatives, particularly for the rural areas. The concept was good, and how would they proceed?

Regarding the way forward, he pointed out that the West Rand municipality has the best prospects for success so far, given their positive attitude towards the whole matter.

Mr Dunkley: International Union of Land Value and Free Trade, also highlighted a few issues which Mr Trowbridge had not covered. He pointed out that all the village properties and produce will be owned and sold by the residents only, so no money will actually leave the village. He added that anyone leaving the village would sell the property and anything else to anyone in the village so as to keep the capital in the village.

The Chair noted that the presentation is commendable, but since this is a new concept it would take some time for Members to come to grips with it and they would then discuss it at a later stage.

The meeting was adjourned.

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