LEADER Project - Internal Village Development, East Belgium
LEADER and the LAG-Area "100 Dörfer – 1 Zukunft"
The previously mentioned term LEADER, is a funding program financed by the EU structure fund to develop rural spaces and stands for "Liaisons Entre Actions de Développement de l‘Economie Rurale.“ This means "connections between actions to develop the rural economy." The WFG is the lead partner for the project Internal Village Development within the framework of this program.
The profile and significance of rural space has significantly changed in the past year due to the decisive effects of the agracultural-structural change, demographic chances, globalization, and increasing mobility.
The biggest changes for the villages in the LAG area can be summarized as follows:
- Urban sprawl resulting from the sector plan in 1970 to 1980
- Loss of the villages' landscape silhouette as well as architectonic and traditional characteristics
- Concentration of new buildings preferred on the village outskirts, with their necessary infrastructures and investments (water, channel, electricity, etc.)
- Receeding birth rates facing a consistently aging population in the center of the villages
- Decline of agricultural occupation
- Loss of a sense of community and sociability
- Old structures in the center of the villages are only partially used by locals. These buildings are often used as a second residence by non-locals.
- Due to a lack of alternatives, cars are the primary mode of transportation, even for short distances.
- Insufficient workload and minor profitability of economic and social institutions
The internal development of the villages and the strengthening of the village centers are tasks the residents, political decision makers, municipal administrations, and plannning experts must take upon themselves to make the villages fit for the future.
Due to these assessments, LAG "100 Dörfer – 1 Zukunft" selected the Internal Village Development Project as its responsibility and task for the 2007-2013 funding period. The goal of the project is to make the population of the LAG area more familiar with this topic and sensitize them. This project can clarify to residents the advantages of the living and building in the existing holdings and especially housing in the center. Aside from the proximity to existing stores and infrastructures (schools, kindergartens, busstops, etc.), the social aspect of reviving the village core should not be neglected due to the high quality of life.
2012 to 2013
LAG 100 Dörfer - 1 Zukunft
Wirtschaftsförderungsgeschaft Ostbelgien (WFG)
Sabine Menniken (WFG), Anne Weisshaupt (WFG), Gilbert Küpper (WFG)