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Backyarding: Making urban safety matter in neighbourhood development

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Backyard Matters

18 July 2023

Development Action Group, Isandla Institute


uKESA Librarian 2

Policy brief

South Africa

Crime and violence are intrusive with both immediate and long-term implications for communities. This is particularly true for those who live in under-resourced neighbourhoods, such as backyard residents and people living in informal settlements. The converging crises of load shedding, water shortages, and critical service infrastructure collapse further perpetuate the underlying conditions which allow for crime and violence to flourish. This not only impacts communities; it also creates a climate of risk for organisations working in these areas. In this context, it is clear that a security-focused response only yields limited results. This practice brief (PDF, 2.3MB) outlines the constitutional framework for safety and security as well as the pillars of area-based violence prevention interventions. It examines the key factors that make area-based violence prevention interventions sustainable and draws on a successful project from practice to gain important lessons for replicability.


Prior to releasing this policy brief, the Isandla Institute also produced a joint civil society submission aimed at tackling the significant challenges being experienced in the backyard housing market. They also created a video to explain the position, and another video expanding on the role of housing support centres.


Abstract based directly on original source.


Website References

Built environment


Cost of living

Crime and security



Human settlements




Poverty & inequality

Safety & security

South Africa

Stable communities



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