How to Make Cities Safer

Cities are both places of opportunity but also often places of high inequality and levels of violence and crime. South African cities are no exception. As most economic activity and employment are found in cities, the lack of urban safety directly affects the economic and social development of the country. The conditions that drive urban violence and crime are similar to those in other developing countries. Two countries – Colombia and Brazil – have been recognised internationally for their success in reducing high levels of violence and crime in their cities.


In partnership with the South African Cities Network (SACN) and the Department of Cooperative Governance (DCoG), the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) organised a study tour to these countries, so officials could learn more about community safety concepts and strategies. During the two-week trip, officials met with various stakeholders, participated in the 7th World Urban Forum and visited projects, including Unidade de Polícia Pacifi cadora (UPP or Police Pacifi cation Units) and the AfroReggae Cultural Group (in Brazil) and CERCAPAZ: Peace-building by promoting cooperation between government and civil society (in Colombia).


Two over-riding themes emerged from the study tour: (1) Community safety needs contributions from different role-players, not only the police (or criminal justice system). (2) Urban safety is a human right, and the state has a responsibility to implement measures that support urban safety. Within these themes, some important lessons emerged.