Assessing the impact of state-community collaboration to address urban violence in South Africa

Assessing the impact of state-community collaboration to address urban violence in South Africa – Research

Duration: 01 Apr 2013 – 30 Oct 2015

Topics: Prevention concepts, Safety planning, Urban safety

Location: National (all SA), Western Cape


Funding sources: Safe and Inclusive Cities programme (IDRC, CRDI)


Research focus

Urban violence has many causes that require both short- and long-term interventions. Many of these interventions are poverty reduction programs. This project will focus on assessing whether these interventions are successful in reducing violence in three South African cities.

The challenge

Past studies on violent crime in South Africa have documented how crime is often underpinned by poverty and inequality. Yet developing effective policy prescriptions to address these root causes is not straight forward. Studies show that violent crime in South Africa is not committed for material gain. Structural forms of inequality and exclusion ultimately drive violent crime. There needs to be an understanding of how interactions between individuals, communities, and society help explain degrees of violence.

The research

The project will focus on the relationship between populations affected by violence and the local government, police, development agencies, and community stakeholders. Data will be collected on how community members perceive relationships and interactions with other community members, groupings, and institutions that affect their ability to live peacefully. Major considerations in identifying respondents will be gender, ethnicity, age, and economic status. These are important factors that shape perceptions on citizen safety, and on the impact of violence.

Specific objectives are to:

  • identify the most effective strategies for addressing urban violence
  • develop a network of researchers in South Africa with skills and experience in researching urban violence in the Global South
  • inform policymakers in South Africa and globally of more effective intervention options to deal with urban violence
  • build community capacity to engage with state violence prevention initiatives.

Expected outcomes

Expected results include peer-reviewed journal articles, research and workshop reports, policy briefs, and a documentary video highlighting the challenges of violence in one of the selected communities. In addition, a monitoring and evaluation report will be produced. A conference and policy briefing meetings will be held with stakeholders at the local and national level. The project will also hold training workshops and policy dialogue workshops to build the capacity of local researchers.