Who We Are

Our vision is to transform low-income neighbourhoods into safe and sustainable communities. For this to come true, economic, social, cultural, and institutional exclusion needs to be overcome.

To overcome apartheid’s legacy of social, economic, institutional and spatial exclusion of low-income areas towards safe and sustainable neighbourhoods with an improved quality of life for residents.


VPUU is an area-based community development programme that aims at safe and integrated communities, citizenship, pride and the improvement of quality of life for the residents in local neighbourhoods through a comprehensive range of urban improvements and social interventions. This is done in partnership with local communities, the public sector and other interested parties in a transformational process.


Violence Prevention through Urban Upgrading [VPUU] finds its origins in the need to create safer and sustainable communities as proactive response to the high levels of direct violence- the violent crime we as citizens or fellow citizens experience, as well as structural violence - violence that is imposed because people belong to a particular cultural, ethnic background, sexual orientation etc. or institutional violence because depriving people in particular areas of access to opportunities to participate fully in the democratic society.

This concept of Violence Prevention through Urban Upgrading was co-designed initially between the City of Cape Town, the community of Khayelitsha, the German Development Bank, and a team of dedicated local and international professionals. Over time, National Treasury, the Western Cape Government, and many more communities and role players joined the partnership.

In April 2013, the VPUU Not for Profit Company [VPUU NPC] was established as intermediary to anchor the dialogue between public sector and citizens organised in local leadership forums to assist the implementation of a programmatic approach. Strategic partnerships are formed with NGOs, CBOs and other development organisations that want to make a difference by transforming the spatial and social legacy by the apartheid into sustainable neighbourhoods through negotiated and joint development.

Our holistic participatory approach engages the community from the very beginning, throughout the process of design, implementation, maintenance and activation and monitoring and evaluation. Our work is aimed towards deepening citizenship, pride, encouraging partnerships and improving the overall quality of life.

We promote:

  • Life Long Learning
  • Building community social capital
  • Safe Communities
  • Evidence-based work of positive impact

We work in partnership with communities, government, private sector, tertiary institutions, and civil society to achieve our vision. Since 2005, we have worked with communities across 18 areas in South Africa; in urban and rural settings, in formal and informal settlements.


Cornerstones to our approach are human development and sustainability underpinned by a paradigm shift from where the state defines problems and assembles resources to one of partnership between community, state and civil society who jointly identify and tackle local problems

Key principles of the programme include:

  • Trust
  • Accountability
  • Voluntarism
  • Participatory and developmental approach
  • Mutually beneficial partnerships
  • Local ownership