In a nutshell
The Urban Safety Reference Group was established to serve as a platform for peer-to-peer learning and knowledge sharing amongst practitioners from the South African Cities Network (SACN) member cities as well as other key government role-players on urban safety and violence prevention.
What we do
Currently, there is no structured learning and knowledge sharing platform in South Africa on the theme of urban safety and violence prevention. Most of the interaction that does take place between safety practitioners within the cities (and other role-players on national and provincial level) happens on an ad hoc basis. A number of city safety managers and practitioners have expressed keen interest in and support for the establishment of a national forum to enable and facilitate peer-to-peer knowledge sharing and joint knowledge generation, and support and collaboration. Such a forum enables evidence-based learning to inform urban policy, planning and management.
The Reference Group provides the basis for cities (and incrementally the broader sphere of local government) to collectively raise the profile of the topic of urban safety nationally, and advocate for necessary policy, legislative, institutional or fiscal reforms to empower cities and local government more generally to make an even more pro-active contribution to violence and crime prevention.
Recognising the various dimensions in the making of safer cities, which meet their development potential, the Reference Group is aware of the need for social, situational and institutional interventions. To this end it seeks to impact the relevant policy review processes including, inter alia, the Integrated Urban Development Framework.
The Reference Group further underscores the value of South-South learning in the formulation and development of sound urban safety plans. In line with this core objective, it recently undertook a study tour to the cities of Bogota, rio de Jeneiro and Medellin in South America. Cities are both places of opportunity and high inequality and levels of crime and violence. The conditions that drive crime and violence are similar across cities of the global south. The countries of Colombia and Brazil are recognised internationally for their respective success in reducing high levels of crime and violence in their cities. They provided a great learning opportunity for those at the forefront of the urban safety agenda in South African cities.
How we do it
The Reference Group is convened by the SACN, which acts as Secretariat, with the support of the GIZ Inclusive Violence and Crime Prevention Programme (VCP).
The membership of the Reference Group comprises managers responsible for safety from the nine member cities of the SACN, with provision for the inclusion of secondary cities and municipalities.Representatives of selected national government institutions include the Department of Cooperative Governance (DCoG), SALGA, National Treasury, Department for Social Development and the Civilian Secretariat for Police and SAPS.
In its broad programme of activities, the Reference Group meets quarterly. This is in addition to identifying and responding to the knowledge needs of practitioners and their institutions, commissioning research, packaging knowledge products
disseminating knowledge and influencing relevant policy processes through submissions and other means.
What we have achieved
The Reference Group recently published its report on the study tour to Rio de Janeiro, Bogota and Medellin. The report is available on this platform - click here.
The study tour brought South African local and national government officials working on urban safety to Colombia and Brazil in order to facilitate South-South learning about effective community safety concepts and get ideas for strengthening urban safety strategies. During the two-week trip, the officials met with various stakeholders, visited projects in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) and Bogota and Medellin (Colombia), and participated in the 7th World Urban Forum in Medellin. The study tour was organised in partnership between the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) Inclusive Violence and Crime Prevention (VCP) Programme, South African Cities Network (SACN) and the Department of Cooperative Governance (DCoG).