Prof Etienne Nel

Nel, E, Hill, T, Taylor, B and Atkinson, D (2011), “Demographic and Economic Changes in Small Towns in South Africa’s Karoo: Looking from the Inside Out”, Urban Forum 22:395–410.

Abstract

This article seeks to situate the experience of demographic and economic change in South African small towns within a broader context. Drawing on international literature detailing demographic, economic and racial changes within small towns, the paper relates these trends to the Karoo region in South Africa. The research findings reveal that small towns in the Karoo are experiencing selective demographic and economic growth, which particularly favours the larger small towns. There is clear racial differentiation in the growth which is taking place and, contrary to predictions made in the 1970s, small towns in South Africa are not all experiencing absolute decline.

Available from http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs12132-011-9131-z (a fee may be charged).

Author contact: etienne.nel@otago.ac.nz.

 


Nel, E, Hill, T, Taylor, B and Atkinson, D (2007), Rural and Urban Dynamics in the Eastern Cape Karoo A preliminary investigation over 100 years.

 

Abstract

Arid and semi-arid areas are often considered environmentally and economically marginal which has been exacerbated by economic realities, shifts in agricultural production and land use, policy implementation and general perceptions of the regions. This paper explores these themes with reference to a semi-arid landscape collectively referred to as the Karoo region, covering approximately 20% of the geographic space of South Africa and used primarily for extensive livestock farming. Despite a long-term decline economic declines, particularly in terms of agricultural output which reached a head in the 1970s, the demographics of the region, and that of the largest service centres in the area in particular are growing. While there are very real socio-economic needs and development backlogs, the situation has been exacerbated by the reality that the area has been politically marginalized. The small towns of the area are focal points of investigation and provide a lens into the economic dynamics of the area in the sense that most of the region’s population live in these centres which are the key service, collection and distribution centres for what traditionally has been an agriculturally based regional economy. By the 1970s structural decline had set in and while recent trends suggest a selective and partial reversal of fortunes, in many rural districts and small towns, little seems to have improved since then. The Karoo spans the boundaries of four provinces, which have no defined response to dealing with the Karoo and its challenges. In addition, national governments see urbanization to the larger cities as inevitable, and have no complementary rural / small town development strategy which makes areas such as the Karoo underprovided for in terms of urban services. This paper provides background details regarding the Karoo, associated economic and demographic changes and policy neglect to explore the concept of marginalisation within the region.

 

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Nel, E and Hill, T (2008), “Marginalisation and demographic change in the Karoo, South Africa”, Journal of Arid Environments, vol. 72, 2008, pp. 2264-2274.

 

Abstract

Semi-arid areas are often considered to be environmentally and economically marginal, a situation which has been exacerbated by economic change, shifts in agricultural production and land use, and changing state policy. These themes are explored with reference to a semi-arid landscape, namely the Karoo, which covers some 40% of the geographic space of South Africa and is used primarily for extensive livestock farming. Despite long-term decline in agricultural output, the traditional mainstay of the region, and weakening small town economies, the Karoo’s population and the economies of its largest service centres are growing. There are, real socio-economic needs and development backlogs, and the situation has been exacerbated by recent political marginalisation. In this study, the small towns of the region are focal points of investigation and provide a lens to investigate the changing demographic and economic dynamics of the Karoo. Most of the region’s population lives in these centres which are service, collection, and distribution points for what traditionally has been an agriculture-based regional economy. This paper explores the concept of marginalisation with specific reference to historical, economic, and demographic change.

 

Can be purchased at: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140196308002176

Author contact: Etienne.nel@otago.ac.nz.