In a nutshell
The Safer Places: Resilient Institutions and Neighbourhoods Together (SPRINT) Project was conceptualised as an opportunity to grow capacity in and the utilisation of Area-Based Violence Prevention Interventions (ABVPI) in public policy, programmes and practices in order to upscale them and have a sustainable impact.
The SPRINT Project uses multiple distinct yet inter-related pathways, which work towards institutionalisation of effective ABVPI approaches integrated by local government and civil society organisations to respond to violence prevention challenges in vulnerable communities.
This is achieved by utilising virtual and face-to-face capacity building workshops, learning exchanges and partner events, and through the production of learning and advocacy products for use by local, provincial and national government and civil society organisations.
What we do
The SPRINT Project works towards the institutionalisation of effective ABVPI approaches by local government and civil society organisations in response to violence prevention challenges in vulnerable communities. It is a joint initiative of the South African-German Development Cooperation with the support of the Violence and Crime Prevention (VCP) Programme, implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) as the commissioning party and Global Affairs Canada (GAC) as co-financing partner. The SPRINT Project is implemented by Isandla Institute and Violence Prevention through Urban Upgrading (VPUU). Initially designed as a short-term (9 month) intervention to address concerns about heightened risk to crime and violence as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the project was extended until the end of 2023.
At first (starting 2020), the project worked in two streams – a learning network and a laboratory. The learning network undertook a series of 10 knowledge sharing exchanges with CSOs, municipalities and national government departments and agencies to better understand the context in which ABVPI are implemented and the systems and institutions are grown and supported to implement ABVPI. The laboratory took 10 municipalities together with their selected partner CSOs through a capacity-building process focusing on co-designing and implementing practical, ABVPI. This included in-depth situational analysis for selected municipalities as well as on-site mentoring in two selected municipalities.
Since then (starting 2022), this has expanded to working across four themes: enabling conditions, activation, capacitation, and implementation. These four themes are realised through capacity building workshops (both face to face and virtual), learning exchanges, partner events such as the Champions events and the production of learning and advocacy documentation. Key in the endeavours is the project’s Advisory Group made up of representatives of the Department of Cooperative Governance (DCoG), National Treasury (NT), the Department of Human Settlements (DHS), the South African Local Government Association (SALGA), the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities (DWYPD) and the Civilian Secretariat for Police Services (CSPS). Members of the Advisory Group also champion ABVPI in their departments and organisations.
How we do it
The SPRINT Project works with the South African government and civil society organisations to build understanding, utilisation and institutionalisation of ABVPI, which is done through four project themes. Each implementing partner leads on two themes while supporting the other two themes. Subsequently, Isandla Institute leads on Enabling Conditions and Activation, while VPUU leads on Capacitation and Implementation. The purpose of each theme is outlined below including some examples of their interventions.
Enabling Conditions: The activities under this theme seek to provide on-going support to the Advisory Group to embed an ABVPI orientation in relevant government policy, practice and programmes. This includes drafting an institutionalisation strategy to analyse the current context and possible opportunities for integration, developing guidelines to the inclusion of ABVPI in key government programmes and plans, and identifying opportunities to incorporate ABVPI more explicitly into public funding.
Activation: The purpose of the activities under this theme is identifying, mobilising and supporting ABVPI champions in municipalities and civil society who are committed to drive ABVPI action in their localities. This is done through building a community of practice (CoP) which aims to identify and connect champions. CoP members attend learning events and Champions events which are an opportunity to build relationships, network and share and deepen knowledge about ABVPI.
Capacitation: The purpose of activities under this theme is to ensure that a range of ABVPI content, principles and skills is available in relevant training programmes. Activities under this theme included virtual and face-to-face training workshops with municipal representatives and their civil society partners.
Implementation: The purpose of activities under this theme is to provide implementation support to ABVPI project sites to demonstrate the potential of the ABVPI approach and to deepen practical knowledge. In the first phase of the project, this included a situational analysis of five sites and support and mentorship in two of those sites. In the second phase of the project (2022/23), two additional sites have been added for mentorship and support
What we have achieved
To date, a robust and engaged community has been built through shared work and processes. This community utilised different mediums of awareness which have been created to allow for the spreading of knowledge of ABVPI. This enabled the embedding of shared knowledge institutionally within relevant government departments, key municipalities and within civil society to ensure sustainability as well as mobilising local violence prevention interventions thinking in order to address community violence and crime prevention challenges that have been persistent issues throughout South Africa. In recent capacity building processes, 7 municipalities together with their local CSO partners attended a 2 day face to face training course. This followed a virtual training course which was attended by up to 80 participants from municipalities and CSOs across South Africa. The most recent Champions event was attended by 60 participants representing 18 CSOs and 8 municipalities and various other stakeholders and government agencies/departments. The SPRINT newsletter is shared with 499 people. Isandla Institute has also compiled a number of learning and practice briefs which delve into the different facets of ABVPI. The learning briefs cover a multitude of topics including gender, ABVPI and schools, green public spaces, funding, COVID-19 and youth, amongst others. The practice briefs have been created through the synthesis of key discussion points of multi-stakeholder workshops, including Champions events.
What we have learned
We have learnt that to stem violence and crime, it is essential to integrate violence and crime prevention together with responsive interventions. In addition, integrating long-term interventions that respond to localized challenges and incorporate community participation is key to sustainability. It is important to consider the needs of the community when implementing ABVPI due to the invaluable insights provided by community members.
ABVPI has potential to mobilise action and collaboration for development at a local level, but may also be a catalyst for community participation, partnership and ownership – which is also critical for sustainability. This is because “safety is everyone’s business” and requires a whole of society approach that is created through multi-stakeholder collaboration.
The institutionalisation of new practices and policies/programmes requires time because it needs mind-set change and civil society organisations play important roles in establishing connections with municipalities and officials.
There is also a need for major communication and marketing campaign aimed at raising awareness about the importance of ABVPI and associated practices, to ensure that ABVPI approaches become institutionalised in policy, programmes and practices.