Enabling local government action to make communities safer

Project description

Title: Inclusive violence and crime prevention (VCP)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: South Africa
Lead executing agency: Department of Cooperative Governance as chair of a national Steering Committee
Overall term: 2012 to 2018

South Africa. Young people in Johannesburg. © GIZ


People's mobility and quality of life, their participation in public life and in sustainable development greatly depend on their safety and freedom from violence and crime. The high level of violence in South Africa is one of the greatest obstacles to the country’s development. Although the situation has slightly improved over the past few years, the country still ranks highly in international comparisons. Extreme inequality, high unemployment, inadequate access to public services and a lack of prospects, particularly for young people, are key factors contributing to violence in society, along with the legacy of socially and spatially segregated urban development during apartheid.


Conditions for building safer communities and preventing violence and crime have improved at the local level, with the support of national and provincial governments.


Local communities are directly affected by violence and crime but municipalities often lack the necessary resources and institutional capacities to contribute effectively to building safer communities and neighbourhoods. The project thus supports the strengthening of the capacities of local government and other actors, particularly in Eastern Cape and Gauteng Provinces, with a focus on urban areas. The project works in three complementary areas of action:

  1. Closing the implementation gap: The integrated approach to building safer communities is to be embedded in governmental policies, strategies and programmes with the aim of their effective implementation at local level. Clarifying roles, functions and resource allocation arrangements between the three spheres of the government system is crucial in this regard.
  2. Collaborative thinking and action: The project develops and strengthens platforms for exchange, networking and cooperation within government as well as between government and non-governmental actors. Cooperation between actors at different levels (national, provincial and local) and sectors is promoted in order to strengthen an integrated approach to violence prevention.
  3. Active youth for safer communities: The project strengthens youth-centred approaches and promotes the activation of young people in preventing violence. It also promotes investment in prevention measures that strengthen young people's resilience.


Networks supported by the project have fostered cooperation and built capacity among the actors involved; these networks include, for example, a peer learning and joint advocacy platform of cities on urban safety (Urban Safety Reference Group), and the online portal, SaferSpaces, for violence prevention practitioners.

Facilitated by a group of young peer educators, more than 4,000 young people at 40 schools in Nelson Mandela Bay Metro have been enabled to play an active role in implementing violence prevention measures in their neighbourhoods. Other youth activation measures, supported through the use of social media, have reached up to 20,000 young people in the pilot provinces, enabling them to engage directly with local and provincial government on their perspectives regarding safety and violence prevention.

Furthermore, support has been given for the mainstreaming of violence prevention in government-wide programmes and processes, for example in the public employment programme, the Community Work Programme (CWP), and Integrated Development Planning (IDP) at municipal level.

As part of policy advice, the topics of violence prevention and urban safety have been integrated into the national Integrated Urban Development Framework (IUDF) and support has been provided for pilot implementation measures in collaboration with partners.

South Africa. Children playing in front of a high-rise building. © GIZ

South African experts and decision-makers have been supported in networking and peer-learning with experts from other countries, primarily in Europe, Africa and Latin America, hence promoting South-South and North-South exchange.