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 two decades, South Africa is still among the top ranks of international statistics on violence and crime, and a general lack of actual and perceived safety is commonly regarded as having a profound impact on the quality of life of people, and the country’s ability to overcome the triple challenge of poverty, inequality and unemployment.
Against this backdrop, as part of the official development cooperation between the two countries, South Africa and Germany are jointly implementing the Inclusive Violence and Crime Prevention (VCP) Programme. The programme seeks to contribute to the national development priority of creating a safer South Africa by addressing the root causes of violence and crime through promoting integrated, holistic and developmental prevention approaches. The programme supports the vision of Chapter 12 of the National Development Plan (Building Safer Communities) and is closely aligned to South Africa’s overarching national policy framework on violence prevention, the White Paper on Safety and Security, and its implementation strategy the Integrated Crime and Violence Prevention Strategy, as well as the National Strategic Plan on Gender-based Violence and Femicide.
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). Since October 2021, Global Affairs Canada is supporting the programme's work through a co-financing agreement.
The programme works with a range of South African government partners on national, provincial and local level as well as with relevant civil society actors. The programme is steering by a national steering committee co-chaired by the Department of Cooperative Governance and the Civilian Secretariat for Police Service.
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 second phase (mid-2015 until mid-2019), this work continued, with a stronger focus 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, as well as the development of youth-led violence prevention approaches.
Now in its third phase (mid-2019 – mid-2024), the focus of the VCP programme is on four complementary areas of intervention:
- Empowering children and youth to become changemakers for safe communities, especially for women and children:
- Capacitating youth for peer-led promotion of resilience
- Partnering with children for rights-based campaigning for GBV prevention
- Strengthening capacities of key actors for localized prevention with a focus on GBV
- Enhancing local government capacities for GBV prevention
- Up-scaling area-based approaches through collaboration between municipalities and CSOs
- Strengthening faith-based action for GBV prevention
- Supporting implementation and funding strategies for national prevention policies
- Supporting the evidence- informed implementation of the Integrated Crime and Violence Prevention Strategy and the Comprehensive National Prevention Strategy (implementation strategy of NSP GBVF prevention pillar)
- Exploring additional mechanisms for resourcing prevention measures, e.g. upscaling Stepping Stones and Creating Futures via publio works programmes
- Enhancing the knowledge and evidence base for prevention
- Strengthening the application of evidence and data in prevention measures
- Building and sustaining learning platforms
Through these areas of intervention, the programme is addressing the root causes of violence and crime (primary prevention). Furthermore, it recognises that different grounds of inequality and oppression determine a person’s unique exposure to and experience of violence, hence, applies an intersectional understanding of violence and its causes for targeted response for most marginalized community members. This also implies transformative approaches in the work, especially in regard to patriarchal gender norms as root causes of (gender-based) violence.
Further key principles of the VCP programme are the support to multi-stakeholder partnerships for joint action and resourcing of violence prevention measures, as well as the promotion of evidence-informed violence prevention approaches, in particular to use resources most effectively and efficiently and advocating for preventative approaches.
What we have achieved
Since its inception, the VCP programme has made a significant contribution to elevating the prevention agenda nationally, with a number of tangible impacts across different fields of intervention with different partners.
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
- The programme has supported the development of an implementation strategy for the WPSS, the ICVPS which has been approved by Cabinet in March 2022
- The VCP programme jointly with the Department of Women, Youth, and Persons with Disabilities and the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) initiated the National Youth Resilience Initiative. The multi-partner collaboration aims to enhance support to youth to promote their psycho-social wellbeing and resilience to violence. So far 50 young Ambassadors have been capacitated to engage their peers through various interventions, including social media as well as a podcast. The programme intends to reach and additional 100 youth leaders by 2024.
- Furthermore, together with the Department of Basic Education, the VCP programme supports the scaling up of prevention interventions in schools. Initiatives such as learner-led school safety activation workshops, where so far 8000 learners from 35 schools were reached, will be integrated into a “whole-of-School community” toolbox and disseminated nationwide by capacitating school district safety coordinators. Intending to reach 500 children, 100 learners, 20 community-based organizations and 40 district level Department of Education school safety and social cohesion officials by 2024.
- The South African Local Government Association has been supported by the VCP programme to train 47 municipal representatives on the inclusive development of community safety plans resulting in 11 plans finalised so far. Read a blog article here.
- Together with the Isandla Institute and the VPUU NPC, the VCP programme has initiated the ‘Safer Places: Resilient Institutions and Neighbourhoods Together’ (SPRINT) project through which state and non-state actors exchange and receive training on implementation of collaborative area-based prevention interventions (so far 15 NGOs and 10 municipalities have participated). Phase two of the SPRINT initiative has started mid 2022 with a strong focus on supporting the enabling conditions to institutionalizing area-based interventions within municipalities through the ongoing support of implementation and capacitation and exchange.
- The programme supports the upscaling of the evidence-informed prevention approach, Stepping Stones and Creating Futures (SSCF). 290 young men and women in disadvantaged communities participated in a programme on gender norms and sustainable livelihoods guided by peer facilitators. The approach was delivered through the funding model of the national Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) and demonstrated that it can be used to sustainably upscale effective GBV prevention interventions.
- Together with the Institute for Security Studies, the VCP programme is supporting a data platform providing aggregated crime statistics aligned to municipal boundaries. While the data is available online, additional in-depth analysis for all 44 district municipalities and 8 metros, along with 23 selected local municipalities are available online. This is providing municipalities with accurate data indicating specific safety challenges.
- In addition, the VCP programme supports digital knowledge management and exchange amongst practitioners in the violence prevention sector in South Africa though the platform saferspaces.org.za. Furthermore, the programme is supporting the Urban Safety Reference Group hosted by the South Afrian Cities Network to serve as a platform for peer-to-peer learning, knowledge sharing, advocacy and technical capacity building amongst and for practitioners.
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:
- In order to realise systemic approaches to violence prevention, it is important to have a coherent national prevention framework, in the form of the White Paper on Safety and Security, which builds on existing good strategies at national level (e.g. the National Development Plan Chapter 12) 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 locally-tailored, evidence-based 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.