South Africa’s apartheid-era planning left a legacy of spatial inequality that in many places has worsened as social inequality has risen. In turn, spatial imbalances such as unequal access to economic opportunities, decision making and mobility further perpetuate social and economic inequality. The EDP brings partnering practices that engage the whole of society in promoting spatial integration and transformation in South Africa’s towns and cities.

Towns Action Network: National learning and support network

South African towns and their regions face many challenges, from persistent drought to ‘brain drain’ to bigger cities. Municipalities are overwhelmed, with many struggling to provide basic services. The Towns Action Network is an action-inspired national learning and support network convened by the EDP and seven other Support Partners – In Transformation InitiativeRanyakaKagiso TrustRestaurare/ Citeplan, Democracy Works Foundation, Karoo Development Foundation and Accountability Lab SA – which aims to connect, support and promote cross-sectoral efforts to bring about change and regeneration in small to intermediate towns. Bi-monthly full network meetings for the 90+ participating organisations are complemented by projects with local partnerships. Discussions are ongoing with potential partners and changemakers. Learn more about the Towns Action Network here.

Support to the Western Cape Intergovernmental Forum on Homelessness

Homelessness is on the rise in South Africa, due to social and economic insecurity which is worsened by informal housing and lack of legislation by government. Increasing migration to urban areas coupled with a lack of employment opportunities leaves many South African cities unable to provide even basic services.

The EDP is convening a ‘Homelessness Partnering Platform’ on request of the Western Cape Intergovernmental Forum on Homelessness to improve collaboration between the government and related civil society organisations in order to create sustainable pathways out of homelessness.

Rethinking the economics of public spaces in South Africa

As towns across South Africa rebuild their economies and social structures from the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is critical to acknowledge the role that public spaces can play in economic recovery and building collective well-being and resilience. In a series of articles published in the Daily Maverick, EDP Programme Lead Marcela Guerrero Casas engages with South African thought leaders and pioneers in their fields in rethinking the economics of public spaces and the concept of the commons more broadly as a key investment in the provision of basic services such as housing, transport, health and recreation.

This series is funded by the Heinrich Böll Foundation Southern Africa with a view to sharing best practices across African cities and accompanied with photographs by Ashraf Hendricks.