Eschwege (Foto: ASonne30/Fotolia)

“LebensWert” – Development Management for Maintaining the Quality of Life in small towns Facing Demographic Change

Focusing on the demographic change, the project “LebensWert“ is aiming to introduce a development management that is to facilitate the upkeep of the quality of life for the inhabitants of small towns and their neighboring communities. In order to improve the housing quality, the necessary infrastructures are taken into view: Water and wastewater, energy, residential environment as well as local mobility.

Research approach

In the model region, the county town of Eschwege and its neighboring communities are cooperating with the research partners ISOE (lead) and the German Institute of Urban Affairs (Difu). Based on status quo analyses as well as on prognoses with a focus on interdependencies between single fields of action, possible development paths and accordingly necessary options for action will be worked out. Under the direction of the town of Eschwege selected measures are then to be tested in the model region. Simultaneously and after consultation between the communities, an organization and management model will be developed. Here, transdisciplinary integration guarantees the participation of the communities’ actors as well as a high degree of practical relevance of the project results. The core transfer products will be instruments for development management and transferable and organizational models for communities.


Demographic change entails considerable adaption requirements for the municipal authorities in charge of public services. These adaption requirements are part of securing the quality of life in small towns and their neighboring communities. Small towns in structurally weak regions like for instance the county town of Eschwege in Eastern Hesse are facing great challenges regarding the transformation of their infrastructures and the maintenance of public services. Here, communities are often on the lookout for suitable instruments and organization models. Currently, a clearly structured, integrated management is missing which links different areas and authorities and offers advice on how to tackle necessary changes with regard to infrastructures and the quality of stay. Of the instruments that are already existing only few cover the entire path from the status analysis up to the project development and implementation support.

Research and project partners

  • County town of Eschwege
  • German Institute of Urban Affairs (Difu), Berlin
  • Cooperative Infrastruktur und Umwelt, Kassel

Practice partners

  • Town of Bad Sooden-Allendorf
  • Community of Meinhard
  • Community of Meißner
  • Town of Witzenhausen
  • Regional Council of Kassel


“LebensWert“ is sponsored by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research as part of the funding measure “Kommunen innovativ”. 
Funding Code 033L179A


Deffner, Jutta/Melina Stein (2020): Daseinsvorsorge trifft Alltag. Wie Kommunen, Zivilgesellschaft und intermediäre Akteure durch Kooperation und Co-Produktion die Lebensqualität vor Ort verbessern können. In: Abt, Jan/Lutke Blecken/Stephanie Bock/Julia Diringer/Katrin Fahrenkrug (Hg.): Kommunen innovativ - Lösungen für Städte und Regionen im demografischen Wandel. Ergebnisse der BMBF-Fördermaßnahme. Berlin, 14-19

Zimmermann, Martin/Jan Hendrik Trapp/Jörg Felmeden (2019): Wie geht zukunftsfähige Daseinsvorsorge auf dem Land?. Alternative Kommunal Politik AKP 40 (6), 54-55

Trapp, Jan Hendrik/Stefanie Hanke/Robert Riechel/Jutta Deffner/Martin Zimmermann/Melina Stein/Jörg Felmeden/Annegret Franz (2019): Lebensqualität und Daseinsvorsorge durch interkommunale Kooperation. Berlin: Difu


2016/06 – 2019/07