Oudtshoorn, 20 March 2022 – The Executive Mayor of the Greater Oudtshoorn, Chad Louw, welcomed the delegates at the 6th Karoo Small Town Regeneration (STR) Conference that was held over two days, 15 and 16 May 2022.
The first initiative of the Karoo STR was held in Beaufort West in 2006. Since then, municipalities met yearly to discuss inter-municipal cooperation, pooling of skills and resources, as well as the inclusive interest of all Karoo residents to achieve sustainable development. This initiative includes inter-municipal cooperation and inter-provincial cooperation which is driven by the municipality and informed by regional challenges and opportunities.
The Karoo STR defines a small town as a settlement of varying size (in population and geographical area) existing below intermediate cities in the settlement hierarchy, creating the spatial and economic link between the cities and rural areas and serves as a local node, which typically relies on natural resources and other functions, and is characterised by varying levels of resources, services, infrastructure, and a limited presence of effective governance structures/authorities.
The mission of the Karoo STR is the regeneration of South Africa’s small town that aims to uphold its vision of transformed, safe, socially and regionally integrated, economically viable and inclusive towns with adequate and well-maintained infrastructure that allow people and places to realise their full potential through active citizenry for present and future generations. This speaks directly to the vision and the mission of Oudtshoorn Municipality which is prosperity for all and to be a responsive municipality creating opportunities for its community. To achieve the spatial vision of the Oudtshoorn Municipality which is a sustainable Klein Karoo region that grows, works, plays and prospers through resilience, the focus needs to be on the Oudtshoorn 2030 vision. Elements of this vision are:
- To work towards environmental, social, economic, and financial sustainability.
- Recognising the Klein Karoo region as a key landscape asset that the municipality must enhance, preserve and market.
- A resilient municipal area where the economy is diversified, where the people are employable and serviced by Government, skilled and employed, and where the natural environment provides adequate natural resources.
- To be the Regional Centre/ HUB as defined in the National Spatial Development Framework & STR
Mayor Louw said that Oudtshoorn is the Heart of the Klein Karoo and that while the conference reflected on the issues and needs of municipalities, implementation is key. He emphasized this by saying, “we need action and not words to change our small town and we need it now”.
This conference was hosted by the South African Local Government Association (SALGA)