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 VCP 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.
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). The programme works with a range of South 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-2021), the focus of the VCP programme is on two complementary areas of intervention:
- Addressing system-level requirements for the effective implementation of the national White Paper on Safety and Security: As expressed in the White Paper, these requirements include developing the business case for establishing a National Centre for Violence and Crime Prevention that will coordinate a coherent, national response to violence and crime prevention; aligning the White Paper with other relevant policies, such as the Integrated Urban Development Framework and the National Strategic Plan on Gender-based Violence and Femicide; developing models for sustainable public financing of violence prevention measures; supporting generating the evidence-base for cost-effective violence prevention measures, and institutionalising digital tools for knowledge dissemination and guidance.
- Institutionalising and upscaling selected violence prevention measures: The project aims to secure the long-term sustainability and support the national roll-out of two violence prevention measures that have been at the core of the project in the previous phase, namely: 1) Developing municipal capacities for preparing and implementing evidence-based local community safety plans, through multi-stakeholder participatory processes; and 2) Development of young leaders as part of in- and out-of-school youth volunteer structures as a means to activate the power of young people as positive changemakers for safer communities. The project works specifically with the Youth Crime Prevention Desks and Junior Commissioners Project of the South African Police Service.
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 framework for the White Paper on Safety and Security, and first steps have been supported towards the establishment of a National Centre for Violence Prevention, which will serve as a central hub for coordination of the implementation of the policy framework.
- 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 (the Urban Safety Reference Group, USRG) actively promotes knowledge exchange between community safety managers from South Africa’s largest cities, and national government institutions. The USRG has published 3 „State of Urban Safety in South Africa“ reports, which have been widely recognised as an authoritative source of data for evidence-based responses to crime and violence in the country’s cities.
- Various platforms for local-level multi-stakeholder dialogue and collaboration have been supported: for example the NGO School Safety Forum in Nelson Mandela Bay.
- 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. The portal has fostered an active community of practitioners nationally, with 285 registered practitioners from government and civil society, and the site being recognised as the authoritative source of freely-available knowledge and support resources for the country on violence prevention.
- Since 2017, 116 youth volunteers from the Youth Crime Prevention Desk structures have been trained in leadership and facilitation skills, violence prevention concepts and community safety planning methods, and are now implementing social crime prevention projects in their communities. Eighty-two (82) police officers and provincial safety department officials have been trained as mentors to support these youth volunteers.
- In Nelson Mandela Bay, the youth-activation project, "Youth for Safer Communities" was successfully implemented by the local NGO Masifunde Learner Development, in cooperation with the VCP programme. Over 8.000 learners have participated in peer-to-peer youth safety activation workshops, with 350 learners subsequently becoming actively involved in implementing youth-led violence prevention activities. More than 8.000 youth have been reached through campaigns on topics such as gender-based violence, substance abuse and human rights.
- The "YouthActs“ app has been introduced as a new digital tool to provide guidance, support, incentives as well as a showcasing and networking platform for youth volunteers in the community safety sector. Two hundred and eighty-five (285) individual youth volunteers, and 30 Youth Crime Prevention Desks structures are registered active users of the app.
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 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 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.