A Tree of Collective Knowledge about Integrated, Area-Based Violence Prevention Interventions

A Tree of Collective Knowledge about Integrated, Area-Based Violence Prevention Interventions – Blog

Since 2018, the South African-German development cooperation has carried out a project focused on knowledge gained through violence prevention interventions. The project grew out of the idea that lessons learned from these interventions could be used to facilitate the institutionalisation, upscaling and adaption of successful violence prevention approaches, foster synergies between interventions, promote developmental and collaborative knowledge, and ultimately contribute with a repository of evidence-based approaches to preventing violence and crime in South Africa, as envisioned in the country’s overarching national violence prevention policy, the 2016 White Paper on Safety and Security.

The project centred on four programmes implemented by the German Development Cooperation, on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), with South African partners:

Financial Cooperation with support of the German Development Bank (KfW)

Technical Cooperation

Between April and November 2019, stakeholders involved in these programmes from all spheres of government and civil society participated in the knowledge management project in various exchanges and workshops. Participants from various sectors debated and reviewed practical solutions, with the objective of providing evidence to be used in increasing community safety and preventing and reducing violence and crime in South Africa. The fruits of these discussions were transformed into two knowledge products, discussed in this blog.

How did it work?

The experiences and lessons described in the knowledge products were captured during:

  • Case study interviews for 14 case studies from the City of Cape Town, City of Tshwane, Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, City of Johannesburg, King Sabata Dalindyebo Municipality, Theewaterskloof Municipality and Gauteng Province;  



  • Two exchanges between practitioners and municipal officials from the City of Cape Town, Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality and the City of Tshwane; and



  • Two larger workshops between municipal, provincial and national officials, practitioners and other civil society actors from across South Africa.



The findings of these events were verified in peer review sessions during the two larger workshops and via correspondence with stakeholders.

The collection and analysis of the data was framed by the themes of the 2016 White Paper on Safety and Security, the mandate of the Integrated Urban Development Framework, and the social-ecological model.

What are the results?

The process that went into the resulting knowledge products in this project is best visualised through the metaphor of a tree (pictured below). The tree stresses the importance of a whole-of-governance and whole-of-society approach in violence prevention, as is reflected in the emerging knowledge products. The tree infographic shows how it relates to the policy framework [the "soil" at the bottom of the page], the interventions [the roots of the tree], and the resulting lessons learned [leaves]. The various interventions are “rooted in the soil” of the six themes of the White Paper on Safety and Security.

The "roots" of the tree are explored in case studies of interventions featured in the Case Study Booklet and accompanying Key Concepts Poster. From these roots, a participatory knowledge management process grew. This process of sharing knowledge through exchanges, workshops and interviews, as illustrated by the trunk of the tree, branches off into six “leaves,” which are the six strategies laid out in the Guide to Designing Integrated Violence Prevention Interventions. The strategies correspond with six booklets, which are accompanied by an Overview booklet. The six strategies are:

Co-designing Integration

Foundations of working holistically, synergistically and inclusively towards violence prevention in an area

Integrating Budgets

Considerations for working across more than one budget towards a shared vision

Sharing Knowledge

A pathway to meaningful integration, sustainability and evidence-based approaches

Building Relationships

Experiences of and practices for deepening trust across integrated teams

Fostering Active Citizenry

Unlocking local residents’ roles as agents of change and co-decision-makers in violence prevention

Managing External Risks

Preparing for unpredictable stressors through strong relationships and a little flexibility

Who are the booklets for?

The knowledge products aim to provide practical experiences and guidance for people working in area-based interventions. Examples of the experiences of area-based interventions between the South African-German Development Cooperation are discussed in the Case Study Booklet. Members of integrated teams of decision-makers and implementers working on whole-of-society approaches and area-based violence prevention will enjoy gaining insight into experiences in various settings – primarily, townships and low-income areas of South Africa. The lessons in each of the Guide booklets are mainly informed by the experiences of municipal officials and other implementers involved in the project implementation.


“These booklets provide key insights for all role-players and politicians involved in violence prevention in all spheres of government and civil society.”

These booklets provide key insights for all role-players and politicians involved in violence prevention in all spheres of government and civil society. Technical staff in the public sector, such as local government officials working in violence and crime prevention, the planning sector, and officials working with Integrated Development Plans; private sector consultants; policymakers at municipal, provincial and national level; international development partners; and community leaders may be especially interested in these findings.

You can access the knowledge products at the "Learn How" section of this platform here

What was achieved?

Through the learning exchanges, the methodology behind these knowledge products led to deeper peer-to-peer learning and awareness-raising. It indicated the need for longer-term, more sustainable ways to exchange lessons and support one another with the experiences and wisdom gained. It has also led to a repository of evidence-based case studies and practices implemented by violence prevention actors within the South African-German development cooperation. This repository is embodied in the knowledge products.

What are the next steps?

The knowledge products have been launched digitally on the "Learn How" section and the VPUU website and an online open launch through a webinar will follow. In the future, they will also be printed and disseminated at an outreach event where politicians influencing violence prevention efforts across South Africa will be engaged. The event will enhance commitment to a coherent national violence and crime prevention agenda; identify champions for violence prevention within parliament; and explore the principle requirements for financing violence and crime prevention. Further, the tools will be used and tested further through a network of civil society sector organisations working closely with municipalities on integrated violence prevention interventions. The tools will also be promoted through various other platforms in the near future.

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