The Arid Areas Programme
The programme focuses on socio-economic development in the arid areas, the under developed hinterland of South Africa, Botswana and Namibia. In South Africa, the Karoo straddles four provinces: the Western Cape, the Northern Cape, the Eastern Cape, and the Free State. In Botswana, it includes the Kalahari, and in Namibia, the Namib Desert.
Since the 1870s, economic modernization has largely passed these areas by. The structure of small towns and extensive sheep- and goat-farming still bears the imprint of the mid-19th Century. But these areas now face major development challenges, including rapid urbanisation, east-west migration from more populous region into the Karoo,the restructuring of agriculture, the changing profile and function of towns, economic marginalisation, the onslaught of HIV/AIDS, and severe structural poverty.
Very important ecological research has recently been done by several universities in these regions, particularly in Namibia and Namaqualand. But there has been a general neglect of social, economic and political issues. Furthermore, many natural scientists are now recognizing the importance of linking ecological research with issues of a more social and economic nature, particularly in the light of changes in land use by commercial and emergent farmers. In particular, the SKEP Programme (Succulent Karoo Ecosystem Programme) in Namaqualand has focused on local ecological resources, and it is increasingly posing questions regarding the optimal relationship between humans and the environment.
The Arid Areas Research Programme, which currently focuses on the social sciences, but actively seeks to promote linkages with natural scientists. This must be seen in the context of possible global warming on arid areas – which are likely to become even more arid – and therefore on livelihoods and poverty.
The Arid Areas Research Programme is housed at the Centre for Development Support (University of the Free State in Bloemfontein), but with close collaboration with the Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of Pretoria. Other partnerships are constantly being sought.
Please contact Prof Doreen Atkinson at email@example.com if you would like to become involved in our work.
The programme has received valuable support from a variety of donors, including the Open Society Foundation,the National Research Commisison, the British High Commission, the May and Stanley Smith Foundation, and Australian Aid. With the aid of these funders, we hosted our first workshop in Sutherland in September 2007, our second workshop in Hanover in March 2008, and our first Karoo Development Conference and Trade Fair in March 2009, in Graaff-Reinet. The Conference also received funding from the Department of Economic Affairs in the Northern Cape, the Department of Economic Affairs in the Western Cape, and the Cacadu District Municipality in the Eastern Cape. See our page on the Karoo development Conference for the conference papers
The Second Karoo Development Conference, 14-17 October 2012, Beaufort West
We are delighted to announce that the Second Karoo Development Conference will be hosted in Beaufort West on 14-17 October 2012. Click here (provide link) for the Programme Outline, the Call for Papers (which closes on 30 June 2012), and the “fringe” programme: The Great Fracking Debate and the Karoo Tourism Showcase. Contact Prof Doreen Atkinson (firstname.lastname@example.org) for programme-related queries, and Ms Anita Harmse (email@example.com) for conference registrations.
Any Karoo-related artists are welcome to exhibit their work during the Conference!
In November 2009, the first Karoo Tourism and Heritage Conference was held at De Stijl Hotel in Gariep Dam (Click here for conference papers), and this was followed by a Policy Workshop on Karoo Tourism in Hanover on 22 January 2010. These events were supported by the Departments of Economic Affairs and Tourism of the Free State, Northern Cape, the Western Cape, the Eastern Cape.
The programme works closely with the newly established Karoo Development Foundation, which can be regarded as the operational arm" of the Arid Areas Research Programme. The first projects of the Karoo Development Foundation are the design of a Karoo travel brochure,which has now been taken over by Discover South Africa and Discover Karoo (http://www.discoverthekaroo.co.za/. (See our Arid Areas Links page for other useful Karoo web pages).
Under the leadership of Prof Johann Kirsten of the Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of Pretoria, our Karoo Meat of Origin Project has advanced well in branding and marketing Karoo Lamb. Karoo farmers are encouraged to join this programme. The website is http://www.karoomeatoforigin.com/
The Arid Areas Programme is proud to be support Chris Marais and Julienne du Toit's National Geographic Karoo Blog.
Click on :
The Karoo Development Foundation has compiled its own dedicated Karoo travel map.
© Karoo Development Foundation
To order copies of the map, please contact Ms Jeanetta Marais of Your Travel Companion, on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Illustrated Karoo Map
by Gillian Vermaak
A product of the Grassy Karoo
Contact email@example.com for copies of the map.
A map of the Arid Areas in South Africa, showing municipal boundaries.
areas marked in yellow are classified arid and semi-arid.
Images courtesy of Chris Marais www.karoospace.co.za