Cape Town - More than R71 million has been given to the Western Cape provincial government by the KfW German Development Bank to implement urban upgrade programmes to curb violence in the province.
Premier Helen Zille and representatives of the German embassy and the development bank on Thursday signed an implementation agreement worth just over R71m which will be used to roll out the Violence Prevention through Urban Upgrading (VPUU) programme across the province.
Zille said although she had not understood the concept at first, it had turned out to be one of the best projects in the city.
VPUU is an urban upgrading programme in which improvements are made in areas to help decrease crime levels. They include improving street lighting, starting community policing forums, installing CCTV cameras and “Active Boxes”.
These are small three-storey buildings with offices, a caretaker flat and a room for community patrollers.
Zille said these “Active Boxes” had increased security in the areas where VPUU programmes had been implemented. The pilot programme started in Khayelitsha in 2005 with R291 million in funding provided by the development bank and has since been rolled out to areas in Gugulethu, Nyanga and Lavender Hill.
Zille said: “Under this project a fully equipped library centre was established and community centre was established at Harare Square in Khayelitsha that has provided learners with a safe space to do their homework and study after school and to access the internet.
“Local NGOs and civil society organisations have also established offices around Harare Square providing various services and support to the community,” Zille said.
Several local businesses later opened in the area because of the new safe space created by new infrastructure.
“It’s amazing how important urban design is for community development and if you see the concept of the VPUU and how the nodes have been connected by the business entities around transport corridors in Harare, you see what incredible impact that has had,” Zille added.
In the VPUU areas in Khayelitsha, murder rates have decreased by 33 percent, compared with 20 percent in other areas, Zille said.
She thanked the German Development Bank for the confidence shown in the province which would allow the government to roll out the VPUU project in other areas.
With the funding, VPUU will be rolled out in the Drakenstein and Theewaterskloof municipalities.
In Drakenstein, the Groenheuwel library and Community Centre will be upgraded and lighting improved in certain areas in order to increase the safety of pedestrians.
In the Swartland and Saldanha Bay, pedestrian routes and walkways will be made safer, and the integration of schools, early childhood development centres and sport facilities will be prioritised to promote a safe environment for children and the youth.
In Theewaterskloof, a Community Police Forum (CPF) will be established and CCTV cameras installed.
German Ambassador Horst Freitag said his country was proud to support the city and province.
“The VPUU project has shown that simple and efficient measures, like the improving of street lighting, can prevent crime and violence if they are part of a comprehensive approach co-ordinated with all stakeholders,” Freitag said.
The investment was made in a partnership the German government believed in.