Govt mulls new plan on rural development

Friday, June 1, 2012

Pretoria - Government has conceded that while the Comprehensive Rural Development Programme (CRDP) has had its successes, implementing the CRDP in all poor households could come at a high cost financially.

Officials say a good example of this is that of Diyatalawa, a small community of 33 households that were settled in Maluti-a-Phofung local municipality in the Free State through the land acquisition programme.

There, an estimated R10 million (about R200 000 per household) was spent on the provision of housing units, a sporting facility and livestock for the households over a period of two years under the CRDP agri-village model.

Taking the CRDP to scale would involve extending its reach from 160 wards in the pilot phase to 2 920 rural wards across the country.

"Given that there are approximately 6.5 million rural households in the country, taking the programme to scale at the level of expenditure per household in the pilot phase is not viable, replicating Diyatalawa across all rural wards would cost R1.7 trillion," reads a Mid-Term Review report which provides progress on commitments made by government.

The report was released by Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane responsible for Performance Monitoring and Evaluation in Pretoria on Friday.

The CRDP is Strategic Priority Number 3 within the government's current Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF). It was introduced in 2009, within months of the April elections of that year. The programme was hailed as a critical response to the challenge of rural development, addressing basic human needs, as well as the provision of social and economic infrastructure and the development of small and medium enterprises, using an agri-village model. Under the agri-village model, housing, sanitation, health, education and other basic services are provided to agricultural villages.

The report said in addition to the financial burden, there is a risk of promoting dependency due to the lack of a business model to support agricultural programmes in the agri-villages so that they are sustainable beyond the CRDP intervention.

Further, the model means that the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform is duplicating work done by other departments, thus compromising collaboration in rural service delivery.

"For example, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries is also involved in the development of small-scale agriculture, the Department of Energy is also involved in the installation of solar energy technology in rural areas, and the Department of Human Settlements is also involved in housing projects in rural areas," reads the report.

Authorities suggest that an alternative approach that focuses on aligning the work of different departments and spheres of government around core priorities for rural development and strengthening the role of rural local government may have an impact on a larger scale.

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