Functional Analysis of Economical Role of Small Towns on Rural Development Case study: Zahedshahr in Fasa Shibkouh district

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Associate professor of geography and urban and regional planning, University of Sistan and Baluchestan, Zahedan, Iran

2 M.A of geography and Rural planning, University of Sistan and Baluchestan, Zahedan, Iran

3 M.A of geography and Urban planning, University of Sistan and Baluchestan, Zahedan, Iran


Extended Abstract
1- Introduction
Today, given the overcrowded cities and their consequences, and the high costs of new town constructions in Iran, their incomplete success, and supporting satellite cities which in turn, leads to centralization and more pressure on the metropolises in long term (Sarabi & Eskandarisani, 2007: 166). Creation of small towns is a good way for decentralization, countrywide development, and supporting a regular rural-urban network (Izadi, 2001: 147). Small rural towns play an influential role in reducing rural-urban immigration and provide balanced distribution of
population, facilities, and capitals, by creating off-farm jobs and providing required services (Rokn aldin Eftekhari & Izadi, 2002, 53). Today this approach is being discussed as Urban Function in Rural Development (UFRD) that links the creation of small towns in functional link with rural areas (Sarafi, 2000: 130). By paying attention to small towns, cities problems such as housing shortage, unemployment, traffic, etc can be solvable, which is caused by lack of attention to their function, to some extent will diminish (Jowkar, 2007: 3).  Zahedshahr as a small town in Fars province with a 20-year history of urbanization and having natural, human, economical and social trait is suffering from partial underdevelopment and deprivation. Though after 17 years of its conversion to the capital of Shirkouh district some extent of expansion in facilities, business, transport and services has been made. Traditional parts are in transition and coexistence with new functions, relatively low movements of rural economy and region and lack of attention to its internal capacities, largely has limited Zahedshahr’s rural area possibilities of positive changes. Recognizing urban and rural area’s potentials (agricultural, livestock, tourism, etc.) and providing written programs can improve the current situation. Observing existing problems in Shirkouh district, in this study, an effort has been made to present development practical guidelines in this district, using BeaujoGarnier models, location quotient, and Izard model.
2- Theoretical bases
The development strategy of small towns as well as the medium-sized ones was being discussed since the 70s. According to the central location theory as the frame of this discussion, cities and towns should be recognized in relation to each other so that the suitable space and functional composition would be guaranteed by the size and position in the urban hierarchy. Later this idea was trimmed by “Rondinelli” as Urban Functional approach in Rural Development (UFRD) and Jonson’ defense of choosing the key rural towns in rural development centers as a series of roles being played by small towns and towns in rural areas was reinterpreted by Rondinelli (Douglass, 1998: 5). Rondinelli & Rodell (1976) discussed that small towns play an essential role in motivating the development in rural areas in developing countries by providing them with merchandise. Indeed, the strategy of small towns is a bottom-up approach; and this is a reaction to discontentment with the bottom-up approaches in the regional planning of developing countries. This approach is rooted in the neoclassical theory; because this approach is arguing that the manufacturing investment should be concentrated on urban industrial centers in order to use foreign savings, labor allocation, and incentive-cumulative processes (Omoja Lawrence, 1987: 67-69). In other word, all the approaches emerged in the 70s and 80s, such as basic needs approach, rural-urban development, the scope of choosed package, accelerated growth approaches, etc., have been emphasized on creating and moving the small towns’ centers in rural areas. Though there are significant differences between different approaches about emphasizing urban centers’ role and improving rural development. Research findings in different regions have been showed that the adequate link between towns and small towns and their sphere of influence enhance, will be able to articulate the settlement systems in these areas and help tointegrate in the national economy. In fact, towns and small towns would be able to act as centers of marketing, services, trading and processing agricultural products, transportation, communications, and exchange and also centers of small-scale industries in order to promot innovation and social interactions (Rondinelli, 1983: 379). Today, though the role of towns and small towns has been identified, in order to comprehensively identify the characteristics and problems of towns and small towns, recognizing the policies essential to their development it is required (George, 1993: 337).
3- Discussion
 Zahedshahr is located in 53°45'E, and 28°45'N, as the center of Shibkouh district in southeast of Fasa county. It is located in a plain land among two mountains and so caused its linear growth alongside Zahedshahr-Fasa road. This road is passed through the town as its backbone. The Zahedshahr plain’ altitude is more than 1200m. Origination of the town of Zahedshar has been caused by a gradual transformation in a rural settlement to the center of the region; so that it was counted as a rural in census before 1989. Acording to the Population and Housing Census in 2006, Zahedshahr has had a population of 10293 with 2301 household (Iran Census Center, 2006). Shibkouh district with an area of 1004 km2 cover about %24 of Fasa County. This strict is located in the southwest of the Fasa County. It is the second most important district in the county because of its special position; so that as the second town after Fasa, it partially provides the services needed by Shibkouh inhabitants. Being located alongside the Fasa-Jahrom main communicating road has increased its regional importance. Its relatively high population as the captial of Shibkouh district, shows its importance and role in the demographic structure of southwest of the county. One of the basic factor and urban and regional planning studying is to consider the economy of the region under discussion. Zahedshahr acts as the center of providing services in Shibkouh district, which is basically an agricultural region. Apart from its economical hinterland, the attitude towards the city is largely partial and the role of city would be recognized well when it’s being considered as a part of the overall system it belongs. Meanwhile studying the effective and important economic index and indicators is important. Indices such as the employment rate, unemployment rate, sponsorship, transmittancy of active forces in different services, industrial, and agricultural sectors, cost, real estate pricing, income indices as well as, studying the status of regional financial markets, active regional cooperatives, and manufacturing units is also important which has been described for Zahedshahr and its rural area, in the next section. Regarding the fact that Zahedshahr is the capital of Shibkouh district, in which some of office, services, and manufacturing centers are located and Fasa to Miande and Jahrom communicating road is passing through it, it can be the center of population attraction from surrounding areas, and would affect the development of the county as well.
4- Conclusion
Developing and motivating the rural economy and agricultural sector is one of the most important and essential role of small towns. Having a special structure and physical fabric, small towns are capable of transmitting and conducting agricultural products from farm to final markets in rural areas. They also would be able to create social-economical developments by transmitting human specialists, innovation, and technology to rural areas. Using Beaujo Garnier model, from overviewing position and situation of overall performance of Zahedshahr in 1996 and 2006, it can be concluded that its overall role was towards providing services in the past 10 years; because following Zahedshar’s conversion to the capital of the district  showscentralization of services. However, during 96-06, its location quotient shows lower percent than its reference levels (Fasa county, Fars province, and the country) in agricultural and industrial sectors; but in services the location quotient is higher and more self-sufficient than its hierarchy. This would mean the services being and the agricultural and industrial sectors being the results of Izard analysis model of Zahedshahr shows a parallel growth in number of employed in Zahedshahr economy and the national economy in 96-06. The position of services in area 1 of this model represents that Zahedshahr’s employment growth exceeds in services compared to industrial and agricultural sectors. The position of industrial and agricultural sectors in area 3 of diagram resulting from Izard model, also indicates a decrease in employment growth in this sectors compared to the services in Zahedshahr which has a lower average economical growth compared to national and regional levels. Finally, by investigating the results from analysis of findings, it should be noted that having relatively ideal commercial, educational, administrative, etc. centers, Zahedshahr is known as a market for agricultural products surplus and a place for providing services to the dwellers of the sphere of influence; so that the inhabitants of Shibkouh district, are receiving their daily services from Zahedshahr. Therefore, it’s been concluded that Zahedshahr has relatively functioned appropriate in distributing economical functions in its rural sphere of influence.
5- Suggestions

This study’s findings states that the overall role of Zahedshahr was towards providing services, because the slope resulting from the analysis of Izard diagram of Zahedshahr is 1 (an angle of 43°) which represents a parallel growth in number of employed in Zahedshahr economy and the national economy in 96-06. Now if a strategical and planned effort to change employment structure in Zahedshahr isn’t made, the town would becom a consumer and a service center. In this regard, the conversion of the industrial structure of the town by performing industrial-agricultural or livestock-industrial projects can be named. According to weather, appropriate land, and potential manpower from nomads and rural residents, it is also possible to guide the future function of the town towards agricultural development, increase in employment, production rate, and exporting surplus products to other parts of the province or country, in trading or multitasking.
Having a special structure and physical fabric, small towns are capable of transmitting and conducting agricultural products from farm to final markets in rural areas; and by transmitting human specialists, innovation, and technology to rural areas, they can also create social-economical developments.
Transportations and communications are considered the infrastructures of development in any region. In this regard, communications for surrounding villages should be provided both of telecommunication systems and roads to the city with good quality. Zahedshahr would be able to perform as a motivating center and a driving force for the rural economy in its rural sphere of influence, when it has an efficient and appropriate communication network to play the role of market center for rural productions.
Small towns or in other words most of big villages which have been converted to a city in the previous decade, are mainly suffering from lack of supporting services. The existence of supporting services in towns would encourage the agricultural workers to increase their products and prevent putrescible products from being wasted during which the markets are completely saturated. Since Zahedshahr can play the role of developing and equipping rural and agricultural activities, it would need to create and develop the centers for conversion, storage, packing, and distribution and transmitting of products to other regions or countries; so careful consideration to this function is essential in programming.


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