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The (re)population of rural areas
Looking for new families
Minna Silander [LEADER Seinänaapurit, Finland]
The village of Kamppi (population 365)
Since August 1998, a formal process has been under way to develop the village through the LEADER II programme. Fear about the possible closure of the local school, the people of Kamppi formed an association and decided to set about attracting young families to the village. Working in close collaboration with the LEADER group, the association hired me as development agent to implement the project.
The action consists in improving the quality of life in the village and making it as pleasant as possible in order to attract new residents. For this, the total cost of the LEADER project amounts to EUR 80,000, of which EUR 32,000 have been provided by the European Union, EUR 19,000 by the Finnish Ministry of Agriculture, EUR 13,000 by the municipality, and the rest (EUR 16,000) financed out of own funds.
The first, short-term objective is to keep the school in the village which this year has 30 pupils compared with 33 in 1998-99. This figure should remain stable over the next five years, but could then fall if nothing is done, as only two children were born in the area in 1999.
We have drawn up a list of well-located land sites, easily accessible and suitable for building new homes. Thirteen of these lots are ready to build on and we also have several houses for rent.
The land for sale is announced on the radio, in the local press and on posters put up at strategic places, such as in shops and public buildings. We are also taking part in the building shows in several large towns of Finland, and in the “Property Days” organised by the banks. We have also done a lot to promote our village, organising various events and activities, for instance, second-hand markets, conferences, beginner courses in Ikebana (Japanese art of flower arranging), walks, etc.
The village’s main assets are the beautiful surrounding nature, a great environment for practising a number of sports, the quality of the school, the dynamism of the local community, and the proximity (6 km) of the small town of Kurikka.
The price of building lots is very competitive and the people of Kamppi say that they are also prepared to give a helping hand to the newcomers, like digging the foundations, removing the dirt and other preparation work. Our main target groups are young families who have some kind of link - family, for example - with our village, and anyone interested in returning to the region of Kurikka.
The job situation is not very good in the province of Etelä Pohjanmaa, particularly for university-educated women. It is a problem, but we have always succeeded in finding work for those who wanted to move here.
All kinds of activities help to make the village more attractive and of a better quality, including, “mini-clubs” for children, after-school activities in the afternoon, dance lessons, foreign language classes, etc.
Heavily involved in these activities, the villagers have always extended a very warm welcome to newcomers most of whom quickly become integrated and find their place within the local development association.
Several families have expressed interest in Kamppi and we hope that some will soon move here. Our village is a living place. People like it because of the good quality of life. We hope that others will also be able to discover this place and decide it is where they want to live.
source: LEADER Magazine nr.22 - Spring, 2000