In a nutshell
The VCP programme is a joint initiative by the South African and German governments that promotes a systemic approach towards violence and crime prevention, combining the strengths and skills of actors across many different sectors. The programme facilitates joint action between and amongst state and non-state actors to make communities in South Africa safer.
What we do
Despite significant achievements in the past decade, South Africa is still among the top ranks of international statistics on violence and crime, and a general lack of perceived and actual safety is commonly regarded as having a profound impact on the quality of life and mobility of citizens and their opportunities to participate in public life and developmental processes.
Against this backdrop, the governments of South Africa and Germany have agreed on a joint initiative: the Inclusive Violence and Crime Prevention (VCP) Programme. The VCP programme supports the realisation of the South African government’s strategic outcome number three - "All people in South Africa are and feel safe" - by promoting a systemic, integrated approach towards building safer communities. A particular focus is placed on improving the conditions for local government to implement interventions aimed at the prevention of violence, with the support from the national and provincial spheres of government.
The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) began the implementation of the German contribution in January 2012 on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) together with South African partners. The main national government partner from the South African side, which helps bring together other governmental partners such as the Department of Social Development, the Civilian Secretariat for Police and the South African Local Government Association, is the Department of Cooperative Governance.
How we do it
Long-term solutions towards making South Africa a safer country need to address the root causes and drivers of violence and crime. The focus needs to be on preventing the conditions that draw people into violent or criminal behaviour. This highlights the need for a systemic, integrated approach that draws on and combines the contributions and responsibilities of a wide range of state and non-state actors.
The goal of the VCP programme is to support such an inclusive and systemic approach to violence and crime prevention. In its first phase (2012 until mid-2015), the VCP programme placed a focus on promoting collaborative action between governmental and non-governmental stakeholders at national, provincial and municipal level.
In its current second phase (mid-2015 until 2018), this work continues, however the focus has slightly shifted towards improving the conditions for local government to implement interventions aimed at the prevention of violence, with the support from the national and provincial spheres of government.
The VCP programme is pursuing its goal through three complementary areas of action:
- Closing the implementation gap: The integrated approach to building safer communities is to be embedded in governmental policies, strategies and programmes with the aim of their effective implementation at local level. Clarifying roles, functions and resource allocation arrangements between the three levels of the government system is crucial in this regard.
- Collaborative thinking and action: The programme develops and strengthens platforms for exchange, networking and cooperation within government as well as between government and non-governmental actors. Cooperation between actors at different levels (national, provincial and local) and sectors is promoted in order to strengthen an integrated approach.
- Active youth for safer communities: The programme strengthens youth-centred approaches and promotes the activation of young people in preventing violence. It also promotes investment in the creation of prevention measures that strengthen young people's resilience.
What we have achieved
Since its inception, the VCP programme has made significant progress across all different areas of intervention. Factsheets for each of the programme’s twelve result areas in its first phase provide more detailed information on the respective context, actions and achievements – downloadable on the right side of this profile page.
A few highlighted achievements:
- A multi-departmental steering committee for the VCP programme, established under the coordination of the Department of Cooperative Governance has promoted closer interaction and joint thinking amongst key duty-bearer institutions within the safety and security sector on how to strengthen prevention efforts in the country
- Through VCP’s collaboration with the Department of Cooperative Governance and the South African Cities Network (SACN), significant progress has been made in elevating the urban safety agenda in South Africa. For example, this topic has been embedded within South Africa’s new national urban policy, the Integrated Urban Development Framework, and a peer-to-peer learning platform established by the SACN actively promotes knowledge exchange between community safety managers from South Africa’s largest cities, and national government institutions
- Various platforms for local-level multi-stakeholder dialogue and collaboration have been supported: for example Community Safety Forums (CSFs) in the programme’s pilot municipalities, and a series of dialogues on violence and crime prevention carried out in partnership with the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth.
- This online portal, SaferSpaces, was developed and initiated by the VCP programme in close collaboration with an advisory group consisting of key state and non-state partners.
- In Nelson Mandela Bay, the youth-activation project, "Youth for safer communities" was successfully implemented in cooperation with the local NGO Masifunde. During the course of the intervention school classes from 40 high schools have been involved, reaching in total about 4,000 learners from all over the area. Other youth activation measures, supported by social media, have reached up to 20,000 young people in the pilot provinces and enabled them to engage directly with local and provincial government on their perspectives regarding safety and violence prevention.
- To demonstrate how community safety aspects can be mainstreamed in relevant government-wide programmes, VCP has partnered with the Seriti Institute to integrate violence- and crime-prevention measures in the national government’s Community Work Programme (CWP).
- A joint project with the programme’s pilot municipalities, and provincial and national government departments, is focusing on building skills within municipalities for community safety planning as part of Integrated Development Planning processes, linked to strengthening the functionality of CSFs.
- South African experts and decision-makers have been supported in networking and peer-learning with experts from other countries, primarily in Europe, Africa and Latin America, hence promoting South-South and North-South exchange.
What we have learned
Through promoting a systemic approach to violence prevention since its inception, some of the important insights and lessons learned by the VCP programme include the following:
- Realising systemic approaches to violence prevention requires a coherent national prevention framework, which builds on existing good strategies at national level (e.g. the National Development Plan Chapter 12 or the Integrated Social Crime Prevention Strategy) and clearly outlines the respective mandates and roles of different spheres of government and civil society. Within this framework, sustainable funding arrangements for violence prevention programmes need to be put in place, with a particular focus on ensuring sufficient resources are available to local government and civil society. Civil society’s important contributions to making communities safety should be recognised and supported by government
- The improved functioning of the intergovernmental relations system is particularly important to enhance the cooperation between relevant sectors and spheres within government , connecting and aligning their actions under the umbrella of a common community safety framework.
- Efficient and collaborative action at local level is vital. Since the drivers of violence and crime differ from locality to locality, local actors are best placed to prevent violence. In this context, local government can and should play a central role in providing an enabling environment for violence prevention, and work closely with local civil society actors in implementing solutions.
- Devising and implementing integrated, multi-stakeholder approaches is a challenging task because it depends on building knowledge, understanding, skills and capacities across diverse sectors. A further complexity is how to measure joint outcomes of violence prevention measures.