STEYTLERVILLE - HOME OF THE ORGANISATION ROEP
THE ROEP EXPERIENCE AND LESSONS
The voluntary organisation ROEP (Restore Our Endangered Platteland) was formed in 1981 by a group of citizens who were concerned about all forms of retrogression, indifference and exploitation of the South African platteland (rural areas). However, the ideals and ideas – and even the projects - it formulated so long ago may still be very applicable and relevant to the South Africa and world of today.
ROEP in its heyday consisted of about 5000 members of all races throughout the country, including about 80 municipalities. A quarterly newsletter and annual conference served to mobilise support for its cause and to create an acute awareness for the burning issues of the day. Much emphasis was however also placed on practical - and potential - ways and means to address certain issues. Since the main cause for depopulation was – and still is - due to unfavourable farming conditions, ROEP actively sought to attract city dwellers to the relatively cheap housing accommodation available in many towns throughout the country. This project was successful and hundreds of people settled in the rural areas. Equally important, with support from the media, it helped to create an awareness of the potential of rural South Africa. Tourism and farm eco-tourism were topics that e.g. regularly featured at congresses and talks that were given at venues in all four provinces. South Africa’s architectural heritage was another conservation aspect that was successfully tackled in cooperation with a local university.