Fields of activity

Regional development, spatial planning and inter-municipal cooperation

Street market in Beira, Mozambique

Urban and rural development are closely interlinked. Urban centres are important markets for farmers and craftspeople from rural regions. Their products and services, in turn, have an important role to play in supplying cities.

Cities carry out important tasks which directly benefit their surrounding areas: this is where educational and health facilities, markets, warehouses and means of transport, banks and insurance companies, and the bodies of state administration are to be found. A well-functioning agricultural sector in their surrounding countryside is, on the other hand, vital so that cities can safeguard the supply of food to their urban population.

Today, 95 per cent of urban growth in developing countries occurs in what are known as conurbations, a complex fabric of urban and rural areas in which a dense network of political, economic, social and cultural functions is cast. Against this backdrop, the focus of German development cooperation is increasingly on sustainable regional development that takes account of and promotes exchange between municipalities as well as between cities and the countryside. Projects in the fields of urban development, rural development, sustainable economic development, the environment and food security are therefore tailored to one another and the way in which they interact is taken into account. This means that development can be promoted in such a way that the opportunities created by growing urbanisation can be tapped into and sustainability guaranteed.

In addition, exchange between cities is promoted by establishing and expanding regional and national networks and associations. Cities use such opportunities for developing partnerships to drive forward their development and thus become more important at national and international political level.

Preventive environmental and resource protection

Successful regional development and spatial planning also contributes to reducing negative ecological, social and economic impacts, sometimes even preventing them. Strong population growth in cities and rural to urban migration force marginal groups in particular to settle in areas that are unsuitable on account of their location and the specific local conditions. As a result, land and water reserves are overexploited and polluted, unstable slopes or regions at risk of flooding are developed and ecologically important regions are destroyed.

Germany supports its partners in developing countries in analysing the local conditions and then incorporating them into balanced regional and urban planning processes. Issues such as water supply, the safety of building ground, land use, raw material supply and environmental protection are taken into account.

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