Violence Prevention through Community-Driven Public Employment
Since 2009 the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation has conducted research and intervention projects that engage with and assess the role of the South African government’s Community Work Programme (CWP) in violence and crime prevention. This work has shaped the way that CWP implements its programmes in various communities and impacted on the way that government frames the purpose of the programme. It has also contributed to understanding of the role of public employment as an avenue for addressing violence both in South Africa and globally.
The CWP is a state-funded public employment programme intended as an economic safety net that provides a basic stable income to people who are unemployed or underemployed.
CSVR’s interest in the CWP and its potential to prevent violence was motivated by research carried out in 2009 and 2010. This research, part of a study on collective violence, conducted by CSVR and the Society, Work and Development Institute (SWOP) at the University of the Witwatersrand, indicated that the CWP in Bokfontein in the North West Province may have prevented violence both directly – through the basic income provided through stipends and activities aimed at basic infrastructure development – as well as indirectly – by reducing competition for resources and creating a sense of group identity, social cohesion or togetherness amongst the community members of different nationalities.
At that point, the CWP was still in a pilot phase. Since then, the CWP has been formally established as a government programme located in the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA). As of 2017, just over 225,000 people were involved in the CWP and there are now more than 200 CWP sites.
Between 2013 to 2015, CSVR conducted research at a total of six CWP sites across Gauteng, the Western Cape and North West province. This research was funded by the Canadian International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the British Department for International Development (DFID) and formed part of the Safe and Inclusive Cities (SAIC) research programme. The research findings, which were presented at a national policy workshop (co-hosted by COGTA and GIZ), demonstrated the extensive and multi-level contribution that the CWP was already making to violence prevention. The CWP did this by addressing underlying causes of violence (through providing income and employment opportunities), addressing immediate causes of violence (through patrols and safety campaigns), as well as creating spaces for social cohesion and constructive collective problem-solving and action.
Based on the results of stakeholder engagements during this phase, multiple stakeholders suggested that violence prevention through the CWP could be strengthened if CWP participants could receive further training and skills. The six topics of gender-based violence (GBV), working with men, substance abuse, parenting, working with ex-offenders and self-care were all deemed to be important areas of training.
Subsequently, the CSVR received additional funding from the IDRC to conduct a second phase of research (2016 to 2018). This research focused on building CWP participants’ capacity to conceptualise, implement and reflect on violence prevention interventions through their work in the CWP. In 2017, this process commenced with the training of 160 CWP participants, from 4 CWP sites in Gauteng, in the six areas of violence prevention. The selected CWP participants were then provided with the opportunity to motivate or vote for the one or two areas of violence prevention that they believed were most pertinent in their communities.
Between 2017 and 2018, CWP participants at the four sites carried out a total of 37 violence prevention activities related to the topics of gender-based violence, substance abuse and parenting. These activities included situational analyses, in an attempt to better understand the selected topics, stakeholder meetings, to learn from and network with local service providers, workshops, awareness-raising campaigns and referrals to government or community-based service providers.
Below is a list of publications from both phases of CSVR’s research, including key learnings from its collaboration in working with CWP participants in conceptualising, implementing and strengthening violence prevention through the CWP.
Staff presently involved in the project include:
Malose Langa – Senior Research Associate at the CSVR and Senior Lecturer at the University of the Witwatersrand
Steven Rebello –Senior Researcher
Selby Xinwa – Researcher
Hugo van der Merwe – Director of Research, Knowledge and Learning
CSVR’s publications on the CWP:
Brankovic, J. (2017). Women’s contribution to social cohesion and violence prevention through the Community Work Programme (Policy Brief No. 3). Johannesburg: Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation.
Bruce, D. (2015b). The good, the better and the best: How the Community Work Programme can reach its full potential as an instrument of community development in South Africa (Policy Brief No. 1). Johannesburg: Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation.
Bruce, D. (2015c). Working for Safety: The Community Work Programme as a tool for preventing violence and building safer communities (Policy Brief No. 2). Johannesburg: Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation.
Langa, M. (2017). Reintegration of ex-offenders: Opportunities for the Community Work Programme to assist in the community reintegration of ex-offenders (Policy Brief No. 4). Johannesburg: Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation.
Mswane, T., & Mqehe, T. (2018). Barriers to men’s involvement in the CWP: A qualitative assessment (Policy Brief No. 5). Johannesburg: Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation.
Journal Articles and Book Chapters
Bruce, D. (2015a). Preventing crime and violence through work and wages: The impact of the Community Work Programme. South African Crime Quarterly, 52(1), 25–37.
Langa, M., & Masuku, T. (2015). The role of ex-offenders in implementing the Community Work Programme as a crime and violence prevention initiative. African Safety Promotion Journal, 13(2), 78–91.
Langa, M., Masuku, T., Bruce, D., & van der Merwe, H. (2016). Facilitating or hindering social cohesion? The impact of the Community Work Programme in selected South African townships. South African Crime Quarterly, 55(1), 41–48.
Langa, M., Masuku, T., & van der Merwe. (n.d.). Towards safer communities: The impact of the Community Work Programme on the prevention of urban violence in South Africa. In J. E. Salahub, M. Gottsbacher, J. de Boer, & M. Zaaroura (Eds.), Reducing Urban Violence in the Global South: Towards Safe and Inclusive Cities. London: Routledge.
van der Merwe, H., & Langa, M. (2019). South Africa’s Community Work Programme: Local Peacebuilding Innovation Within a National Developmental Architecture. Journal of Peacebuilding & Development, 14(1), 49–62. https://doi.org/10.1177/1542316619832681
Langa, M. (2015a). A follow-up report on the community work programme in Bokfontein. Johannesburg: Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation.
Langa, M. (2015b). The impact of the Community Work Programme on violence in Orange Farm. Johannesburg: Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation.
Masuku, T. (2015). A case study of the Ivory Park Community Work Programme. Johannesburg: Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation.
Masuku, T., Langa, M., & Bruce, D. (n.d.). The Community Work Programme in Kagiso. Johannesburg: Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation.
Mullagee, F., & Bruce, D. (2015). Building a good nation in Manenberg: A case study of the Manenberg Community Work Programme. Johannesburg: Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation.
Puwana, Z. (2015). The Community Work Programme in Grabouw. Johannesburg: Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation.
Brankovic, J. (2019). Participatory methods in violence prevention: Lessons from CSVR’s collaboration with the Community Work Programme in South Africa [Reflection Report]. Johannesburg: Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation.
Langa, M., Tappe Ortiz, J., Mataboge, P., Talbot, V., & Mncina, B. (2019). Global comparative analysis of public employment programmes: Strengths and limitations. Johannesburg: Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation.
Mataboge, P., Langa, M., & Rebello, S. (2019). Strengthening urban violence prevention through the CWP: Learnings from CSVR’s pre and post-training evaluation. Johannesburg: Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation.
Rebello, S. (2019a). Learnings from participants’ reflections on the strengthening urban violence prevention through the Community Work Programme (CWP) project [Summative report]. Johannesburg: Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation.
Rebello, S. (2019b). State-community collaboration for safe communities—Urban violence prevention through public employment programmes [Summative reports executive summary]. Johannesburg: Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation.
Masiko, N., & Xinwa, S. (2017). Substance abuse in South Africa, its linkages with gender-based violence and urban violence—CSVR fact sheet on substance abuse in South Africa. Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation.
Rebello, S. (2017). State-community collaboration for safe communities—Institutionalising urban violence prevention in the Community Work Programme [Participant Notes]. Johannesburg: Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation.
Rebello, S., & Langa, M. (2019). Government and civil society collaboration: Lessons from a partnership between CSVR, COGTA and GIZ-VCP [Reflection report]. Johannesburg: Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation.