SLF Autumn Newsletter - May 2021
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Dear SLF supporters and followers,

Welcome to our autumn newsletter. 

We are grateful to say that SLF continues to hold its course during these tough economic times. A major milestone was achieved just this last month with our submission of five major reports in our work for the National Treasury Cities Support Programme for the cities of Cape Town, Gqeberha, eThekwini, Ekurhuleni and Tshwane. In those reports we identified over 150 individual township economic development projects for the metros – from spatial, policy, environment to enterprise development. Armed with this information, each will now make considerations that will steer the Township Economic Development programme into the next level of implementation. Work with the GCRF Water and Fire project has also been underway with another series of digital stories developed with the community of Overcome Heights. We have been supporting the Western Cape Premier’s Office with a study on school violence in the Cape Flats, shooting footage for a NLCSA funded arts programme, and providing important strategic advice for colleagues in the public health engagement field in the UK, Vietnam and beyond. Regularly seeing first-hand the impact of the economic downturn on the communities in which we operate we recognize that now, more than ever that SLF’s work receives both the attention and support it deserves to alleviate poverty, enhance health and improve life prospects for those residents. As always, check on our (soon to be enhanced!) website where new papers, posters and products end up.



SAFI Survey for furniture makers in Delft

In collaboration with the City of Cape Town and the South African Furniture Initiative (SAFI), SLF have recently concluded field research with 21 furniture makers in Delft Cape Town. There are a surprising number of such businesses within the township economy, doing a range of activities from building beds and tables, through to installing fitted kitchens in people’s homes. The purpose of this work was to learn more about the industry and discover how future interventions could support these enterprises most effectively. The study was done over a 5-day period with 21 interviews conducted with furniture makers in the area and interesting insights came from the study. Females make up a small fraction of the furniture makers in Delft. Males made up 86% of the furniture makers in the area while. Respondents who were interviewed were mostly males who were in their 50s and 60s and have been operating for more than 10 years. Most businesses conducted their businesses from their private residences and did not need to pay rent for the business. The findings from the survey show that most businesses were not registered and that business owners would consider registering businesses only if they were profitable. Although there is a greater need for access to equipment and tools, there is a general perception that the hiring of equipment is expensive and less desirable for furniture makers. Based on the evidence collected, the City and SAFI are considering a range of interventions that can support these businesses and better link them to industry. We look forward to providing an update on the eventual impact of the project.



An image of a furniture maker taken in Delft during fieldwork


The School Safety Project

The Sustainable Livelihoods Foundation partnered with the Safety and Violence Initiative at the University of Cape Town to conduct an assessment of learner-on-learner violence in secondary schools in the Cape Metropole. The research was conducted of behalf of the Department of the Premier of the Western Cape in conjunction with the Western Cape Education Department. Information was gathered from learners and school staff across ten schools through questionnaires, focus group discussions and key informant interviews. The research findings will form the baseline to inform the development of an evidence-informed violence prevention programme to reduce violence in schools through behaviour change. 



Learners at Leiden Secondary School, Delft


Water and Fire

The recent wildfire on Table Mountain tore into the University of Cape Town, destroyed irreplaceable records of South African history and wreaked havoc in the mother city. The event made international news and served as a stark reminder of the ravages of uncontrolled fires and the fear and devastation they bring. In fact, Cape Town experiences numerous run-away fires every year but most of them happen out of the public eye, in informal settlements. These fires may not be as big as the one that swept across the mountain in April, but they still create widespread panic among those who live in the vicinity, destroy crucial documents, and often leave hundreds of families homeless and without their possessions. 

How do the victims of these events carry on in the face of such adversity? We are exploring this question as part of a research project ‘UKRI GCRF Water and Fire: Enhancing capacity and reducing risk through 15 'Best Bets' for transformative adaptation with vulnerable residents on the Cape Flats’. One approach we are taking to better understand the local management of fire disasters in at-risk communities is personal digital story telling (DST). SLF recently facilitated a week-long DST process with residents of Overcome Heights, an informal settlement in the southern suburbs of Cape Town. Every year, sections of Overcome Heights are decimated by multiple uncontrolled fires. In mid-March, our visual methods team (Gill Black, Tsitsi Mpofu Mketwa, Anthony Muteti and Carol Masingi) supported a group of 8 women and men who live there to narrate and illustrate what they have done to ‘get through’ fire events in their homes and neighbourhoods. 

The DST participants have given their consent for their stories to be shown at various community, research, and policy engagement events. It is SLFs intention that the story-tellers are there to personally present their videos and discuss what needs to change in each of these contexts to improve the management and prevention of run-away fires.   

Water and Fire is led by the University of Stirling and funded by the United Kingdom Research Innovation Global Challenges Research Fund. 



Participants from Overcome Heights during the Digital Story Telling workshops


Call for abstracts! Frontiers in Public Health

SLF co-director Gill Black is leading the publication of a collection of articles that will appear in the journal Frontiers in Public Health (FPH) later this year. Gill is working with fellow guest editors and colleagues Dr. Deborah Nyirenda (Malawi-Liverpool-Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Programme), Dr. Mary Chambers (Oxford University Clinical Research Unit, Vietnam) and Professor Phaik Yeong Cheah (Mahidol Oxford Research Unit, Thailand), to publish papers on the research topic ‘Public and Community Engagement in Health Science Research: Openings and Obstacles for Listening and Responding in the Majority World’. The topic will tackle the following questions: what are the aims of listening when we facilitate research engagement initiatives; what challenges or risks are introduced when we listen and acknowledge but don't respond, and what are the outcomes and impacts when we do? The collection aims to address questions such as these by assembling the experiences of multiple engagement practitioners and scientists working to integrate engagement into clinical and biomedical research in the majority world. Perspectives will be drawn from clinical trials to small research studies. The editing team have already received 9 exciting abstracts and are keen to receive more! If you have a contribution to make to this ground-breaking collection they will be delighted to hear from you. The abstract deadline is the 15th of May so there is still time to submit! Find out more at Public and Community Engagement in Health Science Research: Openings and Obstacles for Listening and Responding in the Majority World | Frontiers Research Topic (

Frontiers in Public Health

New online learning resource for community engagement and involvement in global health research

SLF co-director Gill Black has been invited by the National Health Research Institute (NIHR) in the UK to join a team of specialists in co-producing a learning resource to strengthen community engagement and involvement (CEI) in global health research. The team, which includes senior consultants from the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Alun Davies) and Mesh (Helen Latchem) is working closely with an international CEI community of practice to develop the content. A central component will be an online interactive global health course applicable to engagement in both low- and high-income countries. The learning resource is intended to support those who lead, or are in training to lead, CEI in global health research programs. It will also be of value to researchers who are currently involved in global health research and those who are applying to global health research funding calls. Previous evaluation work carried out by members of the project team has identified important gaps in other resources that will be filled by this initiative. The first phase of the project has involved consulting with an extensive network of research and engagement professionals to prioritise topics for inclusion. The project will be developed over the next year with the aim of making the course freely available to all by early 2022. We’ll keep you informed about the readiness of this exciting learning platform through our newsletter, so watch this space! 

Facebook Virtual Imbizos

It has been almost a year since the launch of the Virtual Imbizo Facebook pages. Through the work with the Cities Support Programme, SLF has been using Facebook as a tool for community participatory engagement in Thembisa, Hammanskraal, Pinetown South, New Brighton and Delft. This was done to provide an alternative method to engage with communities in these sites in the face of COVID-19. In the initial stages of the Virtual Imbizos, the mandate was to build an audience in which to engage with. This was done through the promotion of Facebook posts that were tied to airtime prizes for the audience. Gradually, the audience grew and now we anticipate on using the Virtual Imbizo’s as an engagement platform. This process has started through the use of polling, and we have seen great participation from the audience voicing out opinions on a range of issues in each of the sites. The questions asked on the polls have been extrapolated from the ecosystem survey that was conducted in the months of September/October and suggestions made on the situational analysis reports in each of the five sites. The polls have been useful in starting conversations, providing a channel for the audience to voice out their opinions and providing interesting insights in challenges that communities in each of the sites are faced with. For more information on the polls please visit either of the Facebook Virtual Imbizo sites below:

Thembisa Virtual Imbizo
Hammanskraal Virtual Imbizo
Pinetown South Virtual Imbizo
Delft Virtual Imbizo
New Brighton Virtual Imbizo

Once again, thank you for your continuing support and interest in the Sustainable Livelihoods Foundation. Keep an eye on our social media platforms for more exciting updates.
Township Economy in 2020 Series #1
Township Economy in 2020 Series #3
Podcast: A Background of Contemporary Delft
Township Economy in 2020 Series #7
Township Economy in 2020 Series #2
COVID-19 Community Engagement in South Africa: The Time is Now
State of The Nation
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