Where better can you find inspiration than in a country known as the Rainbow Nation? A nation that has succeeded in dismantling the institutionalised segregation -called apartheid- and has overcome high unemployment rates and poverty.
For the Palestinian representatives who visited this nation, it was an inspirational and successful visit indeed. Through motivating sessions about how much the entire community can benefit from LED initiatives and eye-opening lessons about the necessary interaction on national, regional and local level, the study visit was a success for all participants.
From the 11th until the 16th of November the Palestinian delegation came to South Africa with the goal to learn about Local Economic Development in South Africa. The delegation consisted of representatives from the LED department of the Ministry of Local Government (MoLG) and the Municipal Lending and Development Fund (MDLF), and representatives from the LED units of 5 Palestinian municipalities: Ramallah, El Bireh, Qalqilya, Jericho and Dura. This study visit, as part of the IDEAL programme and funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, was organised by VNG International with the assistance of the Centre for Municipal Research and Advice and the Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.
The week evolved around site visits at Ekurhuleni (City of Peace), Mamelody (City of Melody) and Lephalale (the Flowing City), which led to a good balance between class room learning, received via presentations, and practical tips and tricks, received via real-life experiences at site visits. Babelegi Industrial Park in Hammanskraal, the Ekurhuleni Jewelry Incubator and the Medupi Power Station showed examples of various LED strategies and it showed the way in which LED policy can be transformed into action. For example, the Small Town Regeneration Programme with its spill-over effect to other towns, the development of an Urban Plan, the creation of a LED forum and National Development plan and the use of more databases, were received as very interesting examples of various strategies that can be used back home.
Ekurhuleni Jewellery Incubator
These South African examples gave the Palestinian delegation the opportunity to extract very concrete lessons-learned to use back home. More specifically, the examples made it easier for the Palestinians to determine which LED strategies and initiatives would be good to undertake in their own municipalities. It was an inspirational visit indeed, infused with South African peace and melody…