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Decentralization and Local Control - a way forward for Sustainable Development in South Africa

E.F. Schumacher's 1973 book "Small is Beautiful: A Study of Economics As If People Mattered" has been a seminal work in the field of sustainable development, and its insights are just as relevant today as they were nearly 50 years ago. The book argues for a more decentralized and human-scale approach to economic development, one that prioritizes the well-being of people and the planet over short-term growth and profit.



In the South African context, Schumacher's ideas align closely with the country's own history of struggle against oppression and inequality. The legacy of apartheid has left deep economic, social and environmental injustices that continue to shape the country today. South Africa is a country of stark contrasts, with a tiny elite owning most of the wealth and resources, and a large majority of the population living in poverty.

Schumacher's ideas of decentralization and local control can provide a way forward for South Africa. By building small, autonomous communities that are self-sufficient and resilient, the country can begin to address the issues of poverty, inequality and unemployment that are so prevalent. This is already happening in some parts of South Africa, where communities are coming together to establish community gardens, small-scale renewable energy projects and local food production.

In addition, Schumacher's emphasis on the importance of appropriate technology and human-scale production can provide a roadmap for South Africa's industrial development. By focusing on small-scale, labor-intensive industries that are geared towards meeting the needs of the local population, the country can create jobs and stimulate economic growth while also reducing its dependence on resource-intensive and polluting industries.

Furthermore, South Africa has a wealth of natural resources, and Schumacher's ideas of appropriate technology and human-scale production can help ensure that these resources are used sustainably. By focusing on renewable energy sources and sustainable agriculture, the country can reduce its dependence on fossil fuels and protect its precious biodiversity.

"Small is Beautiful" offers a powerful vision for a more sustainable and equitable economic development. In the South African context, this vision aligns closely with our country's own history of struggle against oppression and inequality and can provide a way forward for addressing the many challenges that the country faces today.


By embracing the principles of decentralization, local control, appropriate technology, and human-scale production, South Africa can build a more sustainable and equitable future for all its citizens.


This is how #GrowZA


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