Municipality: Xhariep District Municipality

Description

The District constitutes the southern part of the Free State Province and covers an area of approximately 34,249 km². According to the Statistics South Africa census data , the population of the District is approximately 126,130. 50.8% being women and 49.2% men. Statistics South Africa estimates that 69% of this population is below 35 years. The total number of households within the District is estimated at about 38,811.

The main contributors to the area’s economy are agriculture, which generates approximately 28% of GVA; public service and administration 26%; services and retail 17%; and construction 8%. The agricultural sector is also the largest employer.

Critical infrastructure

Three National Roads (N1 - Gauteng to Cape Town, N6 - Eastern Cape to Bloemfontein and N8 - Bloemfontein to Kimberley) pass through the District.  The largest dam in Southren Africa is also situated at the southern tip of the District. 

The District is furthermore adequately served with lower level health infrastructure such as clinics, but more sophisticated facilities, such as laboratory services, are only available in regional centres like Bloemfontein. 

Strengths

The District comprises 17 towns, which boasts of abundant natural resources such as water and agricultural land. The area is also relatively crime free.

Weaknesses

Many households still do not have access to potable water and although the quality of surface water is generally good, it is not so in towns where sewerage treatment works are poorly maintained. There has been also a large increase in the backlog of basic sanitation provision. Electricity is installed in 76% of homes for lighting, but only about one-third of households use it for cooking and heating, with paraffin and wood still in use in many homes. Waste management is also the responsibility of the district municipality but Xhariep does not have capacity to perform this function effectively. About 30% of households do not have refuse removed by their local authority at least once a week. 

Just over the half of Xhariep's population is under the age of 29, which raises many planning questions given the high rate of illiteracy and the lack of employment opportunities. The immediate concerns are high drop-out ratesat school, drug and alcohol abuse, teenage pregnancies, delinquencies and a rise in HIV infection rates.