Prof Lochner Marais

Atkinson, D and Marais, L (2007), District Socio-Economic Profile and Development Plans, Arid Areas Research Programme Vol. 1, Centre for Development Support, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein.



The arid areas comprise a major part of South Africa’s land surface. These areas are the Karoo (including the Little Karoo), Namaqualand and Kalahari, and straddle five provinces in South Africa: Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Free State, and North-West. They also extend into Botswana and Namibia.

This volume contains a socio-economic profile of these areas. It is the first time that the arid components of South Africa are described in a way that highlights their similarities with one another. In most planning documents, such as Provincial Growth and Development Strategies, these areas are typically discussed in relation to non-arid areas, such as the coastal cities. Until now, this has blurred the focus on the arid areas. They are generally regarded as a hinterland, or even as an economic backwater.

This report therefore intends to “foreground” the arid areas in their own right. It focuses on the five “core” District Municipalities of the arid areas, viz. Cacadu (Graaff-Reinet area of the Eastern Cape), Central Karoo (Beaufort West area of theWestern Cape), and three districts of the Northern Cape: Pixley ka Seme (De Aar area), Namakwa


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Van Niekerk, J and Marais, L (2008), Public policy and small towns in arid South Africa: The case of Philippolis (Free State, South Africa), Urban Forum, 19, 363 – 380.



Internationally and in South Africa, small towns have been subjected to several external factors leading to their decline, with decentralisation processes placing increased pressure on them to develop locally based responses to these external realities. However, very little academic research has been conducted on the impact of national and sub-national public policies on small towns. Instead, the emphasis has tended to fall on policy frameworks and formulas which can be applied in blanket fashion across different settlement types. South African developmental policies have made no provision for coherent socio-economic developmental support strategies aimed at the more than 500 small towns and the numerous struggling local governance structures, which are virtually all fighting for long-term sustainability. This research is based on a review focusing on selected social, economic and governance policies. The aim is to investigate both the influence of some of these policies and the impact of their implementation in the context of the small town of Philippolis. It will be argued that these policies have not benefited Philippolis and/or that they have been applied inappropriately within this small town. Finally, a number of general recommendations will be made, along with certain policy-related considerations.

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Atkinson, D and Marais, L (2006), “Urbanisation and the future urban agenda in South Africa” in Democracy and Delivery: Urban policy in South Africa, edited by Richard Tomlinson and Udesh Pillay, Human Sciences Research Council, Pretoria.

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Democracy and Delivery: Urban Policy in South Africa tells the story of urban policy and its formulation in South Africa. As such, it provides an important resource for present and future urban policy processes.

In a series of essays written by leading academics and practitioners, Democracy and Delivery documents and assesses the formulation, evolution and implementation of urban policy in South African during the first ten years of democracy in rigorous detail.

The contributors describe the creation of democratic local governments from the time of the 1976 Soweto uprising and the intense township struggles of the 1980s, the construction of ‘developmental’ planning and financial frameworks, and the delivery of housing and services by the new democratic order. They examine the policy formulation processes and what underlay these, debate the role of research and the influence of international development agencies and assess successes and failures in policy implementation. Looking to the future, the contributors make suggestions based on experience with implementation and changing political priorities.

Academics, students, policy-makers and government officials, as well as an informed public, will find this book an enlightening read.



Marais, L, Ingle, M, Skinner, D, Sigenu, K (2012), An Evaluation of a Family Support Programme incorporating Early Childhood Development, in the southern Free State, Acta Academica, 44(1):86-121.


This article details the evaluation of an NGO Family Support Programme (FSP) that was implemented in the southern Free State’s Kopanong local municipality. The FSP is primarily aimed at strengthening Early Childhood Development (ECD) in what is a very socio-economically deprived environment for small children. The article argues for the critical importance of ECD within the human development paradigm. It then reports on the actual FSP assessment and advances a number of recommendations for how the initiative could be bolstered. It concludes that the FSP methodology is sound in principle and that it warrants replication at scale.


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Marais L, Cloete, J, Matabesi Z, Sigenu K, Van Rooyen D (2010). Low-income housing policy in practice in arid and semi-arid South Africa: Policy lessons and implications. Journal of Arid Environments, 74: 1340-1344.

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The paradigms in respect of arid areas have shifted from efforts to prevent desertification to the Dryland Development Paradigm. In this respect, the basic principles and socio-economic implications related to dryland development have been identified. However, the application of these paradigms has mainly focused on pastoral societies. This paper considers these principles in relation to the South African housing policy in a more formal settlement environment, and argues that the South African low income housing policy scarcely considers the basic principles of the Dryland Development Paradigm, or the basic socio-economic realities associated with arid areas. At the same time, the question is asked as to how relevant these principles and socio economic realities are in more formal settlements where the South African low-income housing subsidy is applied, and whether there is not, in reality, an inherent conflict between settlement development through low-income housing subsidies, on the one hand, and the basic principles of the Dryland Development Paradigm, on the other.



Marais, L and Atkinson, D (2006), Towards a post-mining economy in a small town: Challenges, obstacles and lessons from Koffiefontein, South Africa, Paper presented at the Desert Knowledge Conference, Alice Springs, Australia, 2-4 November.



Mining closure has been an international phenomenon as resource depletion has continued and economic changes have resulted in the decreased value for some commodities. It has also been a topic of research for an increasing number of scholars. Geographically, a large number of case studies exist world wide, with work on Australia (Maude and Hugo, 1992; Niel and Lea, 1992; Sturney, 1992), Canada (Archer and Bradbury, 1992; Gagnon, 1992; Keyes, 1992), Sweden ( Liljenas, 1992; Nygren and Karlson, 1992), Finland (Talman and Tykkylainenen, 1992), Ghana (Acquah and Boateng, 2000), Indonesia (Strongman, 2000), Papua New Guinea (Jackson, 2002) and Romania, Russia and the Ukraine (Haney and Shkaratan, 2003) being prominent.

Historically, South Africa has been primarily dependent on mineral and energy production and export (Nel, 2002). It is especially in the arid areas of South Africa where diamond mining has been prominent. In line with the international experience, mining closures have also been prominent in South Africa during the past 20 years. These closures have been the result of depleting resources on the one hand, as well as more international competition and mining competitiveness on the other. Although there is an increasing number of papers on mine closure in South Africa (see Seidman, 1993; Binns and Nel, 2001; Binns and Nel, 2003, Nel and Binns, 2002; Nel et al., 2003; Marais et al., 2005) in general, the topic seems to be under-researched despite the fact that South Africa has been hard hit by numerous mine closures during the past 20 years.

It is against this background that the paper examines the phenomenon of mine closure and its impact on the small town of Koffiefontein in the semi-arid region of the south-western Free State (Karoo). The paper attempts to identify opportunities, obstacles and lessons from this case study. Fundamentally, we argue that despite good intent by most of role players, our case study suggests that longer-terms partnerships and the integration of development thinking between different spheres of government and mining companies remain difficult in practice. This situation persists despite some hope being offered by the availability of the best enabling legislation and planning frameworks in South African history.


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Van Staden, J-W and Marais, L (2005), The tourism potential of Beaufort West: a study based on visitor demand. Development Southern Africa Vol. 22, No. 2.



Tourism is increasingly viewed as a key strategy for promoting local economic development. The integrated development planning (IDP) process of the Beaufort West municipality on the north-eastern border of the Western Cape identified tourism as a key to economic progress. Starting from this tourism-orientated approach to local economic development, a three-month survey of visitors examined the tourist potential of the town, a possible tourism product, and an approach to marketing the town as a destination. The findings suggested that Beaufort West should develop a ‘destination brand’, portraying the town as a ‘tourism gateway’ through which important sectors such as eco-tourism could be marketed. The profile of the survey participants revealed that tourist industries are not fully aware of their customer profile and should adjust their offerings to attract family visitors. The impact of the N1 route through town was also confirmed in the survey, which demonstrated that significant expenditure emanated from the high levels of traffic through the town.

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Human, F, Marais, L, Botes, L (2008), “Making plans against all odds: Local Economic Development in small towns of the Free State”, 2008, Africa Insight, 38(1) 2008, pp53-66.



Since the transition to democracy, there has been an increasing emphasis on local economic development (LED) in South Africa. The LED efforts in three small municipalities of the Free State Province are examined against the international framework for LED planning and implementation. Often, LED is limited to numerous small capital projects and that it is neither regarded as an integral part of all projects nor directed at addressing the real structural problems associated with the economies of small towns. Moreover, in most cases they are not sustainable, but are dependent on constant funding. Local municipalities could make a bigger impact on the local economy, by considering LED as an integral part of service delivery and functioning.

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Van Rooy, R and Marais, L (2012), “Promoting small town development: The case of the Apollo Development Association, in R Donaldson and L Marais (eds), Small Town Geographies in Africa: Experiences from South Africa and Elsewhere, Nova Press.

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