This article is reprint of the article on Saferspaces https://www.saferspaces.org.za/be-inspired/entry/up-scaling-area-based-violence-prevention-intervention-to-respond-to-covid
The Safer Places: Resilient Institutions and Neighbourhoods Together (SPRINT) Project was conceptualised in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and is an opportunity to grow capacity in the utilisation of Area Based Violence Prevention Interventions (ABVPI) tools within local government and civil society organizations to respond to the violence prevention challenges in vulnerable communities exacerbated by the pandemic. The SPRINT Project has two distinct, but inter-related, pathways which work towards the institutionalisation of effective area-based violence and crime prevention approaches integrated into the management of vulnerable, urban communities. By utilising virtual capacity building workshops and learning exchanges, and through the production of learning and advocacy documentation, the SPRINT Project aims to embed area-based integrated violence prevention intervention approaches institutionally within relevant national and provincial government departments, within key municipalities and within civil society organisations.
The SPRINT Project is a joint initiative of the South African German Development Cooperation, implemented by GIZ – The Inclusive Violence and Crime Prevention (VCP) Programme, Violence Prevention through Urban Upgrading (VPUU) and Isandla Institute. With the initial timeframe of 9 months, the initiative is envisioned as a stepping stone to ongoing institutionalisation of key area-based violence prevention tools within government institutions and civil society. The SPRINT Project pathways are:
Together these two pathways work towards the institutionalisation of effective area-based violence and crime prevention approaches that are integrated into the management of vulnerable, urban communities. Key in the institutionalisation endeavour is the project’s Steering Committee led by the Department of Cooperative Governance (DCoG) who, together with the Department of Human Settlements (DHS) as well as National Treasury and SALGA, oversee and endorse this initiative.
The learning network participants meet each month for a virtual exchange. The first five engagements are centred around the theme of “context setting and contextual”, relating to COVID-19, its impact on neighbourhoods and implications for violence prevention interventions. The second cluster focuses on “institutions and systems”, needed to implement violence prevention interventions including issues of partnership and resourcing. A short thematic brief is created from the research generated for and from the exchange sessions.
At the end of each component, a multi-stakeholder event is held to bring together key insights from the SPRINT pathways about the implementation of area-based VPIs during COVID-19. The event is an opportunity for participants to examine how COVID-19 has increased vulnerability, risk factors, violence and crime and how this has made ABVPI all the more urgent and complex. It also explores why ABVPI is important, examples of good practice and evidence-based interventions. The learnings gathered through the multi-stakeholder process are incorporated into a practice brief. These outputs, together with targeted advocacy pieces and a series of animations will be shared in the ‘Learn how’ section on SaferSpaces.
10 municipalities were selected to be part of the Laboratory pathway. These are the City of Johannesburg, eThekwini Municipality, City of uMhlathuze, King Sabata Dalindyebo, Sol Plaatje, Greater Kokstad, Msunduzi Municipality, Nyandeni, Tsantsabane Municipality and Ngqushwa Municipality. Together with a civil society counterpart, these municipalities participated in a series of virtual capacity building workshops. Four municipalities were subsequently selected for a situational analysis. This analysis combined desktop research, site visits and interviews as well as a capacity assessment to examine organisational readiness, area coordination and VPI strategies. From this, two municipalities were selected for the next phase of the Laboratory pathway. This involves mentorship by VPUU to implement their violence prevention interventions, utilising a Community Development Fund.
Throughout this project, the project team draws on the rich resources developed by GIZ VCP and shared on the SaferSpaces website. This includes the six Guides to Designing Integrated Violence Prevention Interventions. The six guides, with each a specific topic, seek to unlock working holistically on a whole-of-society approach, as well as working on evidence-based and integrated approaches to sustainable violence prevention intervention.
To date both pathways have managed to build a robust, engaged community despite only meeting virtually. In the coming months, the two municipalities selected for mentorship and the Community Development Fund will implement their violence prevention interventions. The process is aimed at further developing the violence and crime prevention knowledge built up in the course of the GIZ-VCP programme with its partners and the work around area-based violence prevention intervention. It is also envisioned to embed this knowledge institutionally within relevant national government departments, key municipalities and within civil society to ensure sustainability as well as to mobilise local violence prevention intervention thinking in order to address community violence and crime prevention challenges exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
During the development of the Guides to Designing Area-Based Violence Prevention Interventions we have learned that integrating long-term interventions for effective violence prevention in municipal planning mechanism that respond to localized challenges and knowledge is key. Moreover, it is important to have strong community ownership and participation on area-based violence prevention interventions.
Some of the key lessons emerging from these processes include the value of understanding key principles and theories and having shared/common reference points, such as the socio-ecological model; the importance of trust, partnership and growing relationships between local government and civil society, and shifting mechanism for engagement (e.g. Whatsapp); that it is easier to reach key informants for the situational analysis when there is municipal leadership endorsement of the project, and even easier when they are actively involved in the meetings; and confirmation that involving the participants in the data verification process instils greater trust and enthusiasm among municipal officials. Finally, in the composition of the SPRINT project pathways and throughout the SPRINT process to date, it has been evident that VPI is best conceptualised and implemented when it draws on a cross-sectoral dialogue which encourages coordination and integration. By bringing together a diverse group, it is possible to bring different perspectives and salutation of a shared reality to the fore which enables successful implementation and increased impact.