Boosting rural areas and building thriving rural communities

Deadline: 21/12/2017 23:59:59 CET
City in Portugal is looking for solutions to combat depopulation, to respond to the aging population issue, abandonment of villages and rural economic activities, and the low level of entrepreneurial dynamics that persists despite available support.

Description

CHALLENGE

The challenge identified is the depopulation of the municipality territory, which is associated with the progressive aging of the population, abandonment of villages and economic activities linked to forest and agriculture, with a direct consequence on the economy and resilience of the territory, in the context of disasters (ex. fires).


The city of Pampilhosa da Serra is located in the interior of Portugal and, although it is only 70 km from the city of Coimbra, it has progressively been losing population. Young people leave for higher education studies and no longer return, citizens of working age, having no available jobs, have to look for work elsewhere and thus leave the city. It is important to state that, even though in the context of the recent economic crisis the unemployment has forced people to return to Pampilhosa, the entrepreneurship index remains low with low self-employment rates. In demographic terms, the municipality shows an accentuated decrease of its resident population: in 10 years, we lost 14% of the population, counting now with about 4500 residents. About 42% of the population is over 65 years old (dependent population) and only 7% of the population is under 14 years old.


Considering this scenario, the municipality has been creating incentives and direct support to the population with the aim of retaining and attracting residents - support to the school-aged population with books from the 1st to the 12th year, everyday equipment free of charge, incentives to housing and urban rehabilitation, support to companies and entrepreneurs to create new businesses. However, the results are not meaningful and the depopulation trend remains.The local authority has the competences to implement new solutions that can be identified, being a priority that they include a job creation / entrepreneurship strand, an essential lever for those who already live here or those who choose to come to this territory to remain here.

CONTEXT

The city of Pampilhosa da Serra is located in the Center region of Portugal, in the interior area of Coimbra region. In addition to registering a low population density, the municipality has suffered a progressive population decrease (between 2001 and 2011, the municipality lost 14.2% of its population) and a significant increase of the aged population, revealing a strong problem of population rejuvenation. This, combined with high illiteracy rate, low level of education and excessive tendency of tertiarization of local economic base, results in a fragile socio-economic structure. Pursuing its structural objectives, the City Council seeks to combat depopulation and to fight the low population renewal, targeting, thus, the municipality population and new residents.

THE CHALLENGE OWNER

The City Council represents the local authority and it is in our attributions to support the populations and the development of the municipality, in partnership with the local community.There is a total alignment of the municipal strategy with the identified challenge. This can be proven in the Strategic Plan available online in Portuguese. Alexandra Tomé is a city councilor responsible for culture, education, health and social support, etc. As a member of the executive, she ensures the connection to the municipality´s political structure with its technical staff to concretize the proposals drawn. She has been part and has accompanied the design of the strategy and municipal projects as well as its results. 

INNOVATION

The City Council has a number of incentives, supports and social services (support for families in need, free school books, support for the birth rate, support for reception of teachers and students, free school transportation, higher education scholarships, etc.) and to economic development (tax exemptions, support for entrepreneurial projects and job creation encouragement). However, we continue to feel a high population exodus on the territory, with employment being a key area.
We are looking for solutions to combat depopulation, to respond to the aging population, abandonment of villages and rural economic activities, and the low level of entrepreneurial dynamics that persists despite available support.