Urban Safety Policy Brief No.2/2022: The Potential of the EPWP to Promote Community Safety

This Urban Safety Brief considers the imperative of partnership policing for ensuring safer cities in South Africa. It looks at how partnership policing can be used to address the complex crime and safety challenges faced by cities. The SA Cities Urban Safety Reference Group’s Briefs Series is designed to distil the state of current knowledge on urban safety related topics for a policy and planning audience. It is presented quarterly to the City Budget Forum and other key stakeholders.


The Urban Safety Reference Group is a platform for peer-to-peer learning and knowledge sharing among practitioners from the SACN participating cities as well as other key government role-players on urban safety and violencee prevention. It is convened by the South African Cities Network (SACN) with the support of the GIZ Inclusive Violence and Crime Prevention (VCP) Programme.


The focus of this policy brief is to explore the potential of EPWP projects to promote urban safety and prevent violence. In South Africa, the EPWP emerges in 2003 as a nation-wide public employment initiative implementing state-owned enterprises in response to the theme of, “decent employment through inclusive economic growth,” that emerged out of the Growth and Development Summit (GDS) of the same year. The programme is located under the Department of Public Works (DPW) and is divided across 4 sectors: Infrastructure; Non-State; Environment and Culture; and Social; and is implemented throughout government and State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs). The EPWP broadly is designed to “provide work opportunities and income support to poor and unemployed people through the delivery of public and community assets and services, thereby contributing to development…”Its central principle is to use labour intensive methods in optimising job opportunities and skills development, whilst encouraging participants to enter the job market.7 It is therefore seen as a short- to medium-term initiative aimed at bringing more people into the economy by providing job opportunities and skills development. Participants in the EPWP are employed on a temporary basis with a minimum wage rate per project. EPWP participants may not be employed for more than 24 months in a five-year cycle, as the programme is designed as a gateway initiative. The EPWP creates work opportunities by providing employment through government-funded projects in government departments, non-profit organisations and the CWP.