WIT Press

The Interface Between Rural Communities In South Africa And Their Urban Counterparts: The Significance For Sustainable Rural Community Development In The Vaalharts Area


Free (open access)





Page Range

453 - 462




442 kb

Paper DOI



WIT Press


B. van Schalkwyk, C. Schoeman, J. Cilliers


Even though Africa is one of the least urbanized regions in the world it is also the region in which cities grow the fastest, resulting in urban areas experiencing a wide spectrum of problems while rural areas are left drained. It is widely acknowledged that the vast majority of rural inhabitants in developing countries live below the poverty line, but what is not so widely known is the extent to which the livelihoods and well-being of these rural areas are linked to their urban counterparts.

It has become increasingly difficult to separate communities into rural or urban entities/areas due to many households relying on both urban and rural based resources, this is especially true in South Africa where the Apartheid legacy has had a lingering effect on urban-rural linkages. In South Africa the interdependence between rural communities and distant cities are higher than elsewhere with many rural residents living in urban domains while maintaining family, social and financial ties in rural areas.

Rural areas in South Africa have been experiencing economic and social decay over the past decades due to urban migration and this in turn has reduced the provision of services, facilities and employment opportunities in rural areas. It is due to these factors that the concept of sustainable rural community development is of particular relevance to South Africa. Sustainable rural community development is necessary in order to achieve more integrated and sustainable rural areas with a better environment and a higher quality of life and an understanding of the complex linkages between urban and rural areas in required for the successful planning of rural sustainable development. This paper examines how these multifaceted linkages impacts on sustainable community development in the unique case of the Vaalharts area.


sustainable rural community development, rural-urban linkages