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Social Cohesion Project

SaVI and the African Centre for Migration and Society (ACMS) were research partners on a nationwide project, led by Freedom House Southern Africa, that sought to strengthen social cohesion in 16 dynamic communities. The project ran from January 2016 to June 2017. As research partners, our task was to deepen understandings of social cohesion, conflict resolution mechanisms, community violence, and community relations. Our research will feed into capacity- and peace-building projects, conducted by provincial partners, in each community.

SaVI and ACMS conducted extensive background, statistical, and qualitative analysis. We directed field work in each location, including in-depth interviews with key stakeholders and community members, and undertook rapid conflict assessments in each of the target areas. These rapid conflict assessments were the foundation of the project and gave Freedom House insight into the dynamics of each community which enabled them to develop individual social cohesion profiles and peacebuilding teams in the targeted at-risk communities.

SaVI’s sites of focus were:

  • De Doorns, Western Cape                         
  • Makana, Eastern Cape
  • Dunoon, Western Cape                              
  • Masiphumelele, Western Cape
  • Khayelitsha, Western Cape                        
  • Motherwell, Eastern Cape


ACMS’ sites of focus were:

  • Alexandra, Gauteng
  • Mamelodi, Gauteng
  • Cleveland/Denver corridor, Gauteng           
  • Madibeng, North West
  • Diepsloot, Gauteng                                      
  • Makhado, Limpopo
  • Isipingo, KwaZulu-Natal                             
  •  Musina, Limpopo
  • KwaMashu, KwaZulu-Natal                       
  •  Orange Farm, Gauteng

The research project was coordinated by Dr Guy Lamb and SaVI associate Laura Freeman. The research team consisted of SaVI researchers Azwi Netshikulwe, Ncedo Mnqgibisa, and Lauren October, as well as previous SaVI researchers Neo Petse, Lovemore Mawere, and Leandri Pretorius. The findings from the social cohesion research were amalgamated into a new report titled "Xenophobia and outsider exclusion: Addressing frail social cohesion in South Africa's diverse communities". The full synthesis report, as well as the individual site reports can be found here: