The Towns Action Network (TAN) is an action-inspired national learning and support network which aims to connect, support and promote cross-sectoral efforts to bring about regeneration in small towns across South Africa. TAN aims to enhance accountability by building connections between citizen-led initiatives and local government. 

TAN is convened by the EDP and seven other Support Partners Ranyaka, Kagiso TrustRestaurare/ Citeplan, Karoo Development Foundation, Accountability Lab SAPublic Affairs Research Institute (PARI),South African Local Government Association (SALGA). Support partners facilitate knowledge sharing and learning between TAN members and stakeholders, respond to requests from TAN members, and undertake their own programmes towards small town regeneration. 

Want to join the Towns Action Network?

  • TAN is open to any organisation or individual involved in small town regeneration and governance, including residents and businesses, municipal officials, civil society, community organisations, researchers, media and other changemakers.
  • Bi-monthly full network meetings for the 90+ participating organisations are complemented by local partnership projects.
  • Follow up reports with meeting highlights, presentations and recorded webinars are shared with members after each meeting.
  • A regular newsletter  including highlights, features, news and updates is also shared with TAN members. 
  • Interested individuals and organisations wanting to join can get in touch with EDP Programme Lead Simon Mayson.

What does TAN aim to achieve?

South African towns and their regions face many challenges, from persistent drought to ‘brain drain’ to bigger cities. Municipalities are overwhelmed, with most struggling to provide basic services. This has lead to the general degeneration of many towns, with businesses fleeing and more skilled residents taking up opportunities elsewhere. 

Currently, how well the local municipality functions dictates whether a town becomes a ‘zoom town’, as part of the remote working trend, or experiences outward migration across all socio-economic groups. Regeneration will remain an unachievable goal without basic service delivery. In many cases, failing service delivery is linked directly to a lack of municipal accountability to local stakeholders.
TAN explores these causes, but focuses on building what is strong, rather than only on what is wrong. The network showcases existing initiatives and innovations for enhancing governance towards regeneration. Partnering between citizen-led initiatives and municipalities is key.

Towns Action Network (TAN) resources



TAN newsletters feature opportunities for network members, upcoming events, relevant resources, and key activities recently undertaken by network participants. 

TAN Interactive Map

This interactive map provides geographic locations and descriptions of changemaking initiatives by TAN members in small towns across South Africa.

TAN page on Urban Knowledge Exchange Southern Africa (uKESA)

TAN has a dedicated page on uKESA, an online repository which shares information and networking opportunities relating to the built environment. The TAN research repository contains media articles, research papers and speeches related to small towns and local government. It also allows TAN members to link their resources to the small towns theme making it easily accessible.

  • See the TAN research page on uKESA here.
  • Search uKESA’s full library here (click on Partners – search Towns Action Network)

TAN Offers and Needs Catalogue: 

The TAN Offers and Needs Catalogue provides opportunities for TAN members around partnership building, vertical and horizontal learning exchange and skills transfer.

Previous TAN meetings

Launch of TAN (2 March 2022)
Watch the session recording | Read the report

May Gathering (19 May 2022)
Watch the session recording | Read the report

September Gathering (21 September 2022)
Watch the session recording | Read the report

December Gathering (1 December 2022)
Watch the session recording | Read the report