Through a project running in 2014, WIEGO and its partner organization Asiye eTafuleni (AeT), have developed a prototype for an institutional structure in which the concerns of such urban environments can be better addressed in South Africa. This is called the Phephanthi Project which means “Be Safe With Us” in isiZulu. Through Phephanathi, WIEGO and AeT, in collaboration with a number of trader organizations, are in the process of building a participatory “dialogue and negotiation platform” which traders will use to negotiate, discuss and draw on the resources of particular municipal departments, as well as experts from outside the local authority, to assist in improving the condition of their workplaces. This platform is supported by a network of community run “risk-management committees” made up of traders who have been trained in various risk management techniques, and who act as the link between the platform and the traders on the ground.
The logic of this particular design works as follows: changing regulations which discriminate against traders and which ultimately serve to undermine their safety and security, as well as that of their customers, is a long and difficult process. The first step towards altering regulations is to build better relationships between traders and the institutions which control their places of work. In order for relationships to improve, an arena for dialogue needs to be created where traders and local government officials can come together to discuss concrete issues which they can both work to solve. The arena that we are in the process of creating is the Phephanathi dialogue platform.
An institutional structure such as this can only work if there are practical activities which can act as a focus for both the traders and those who sit on the dialogue platform. To date, the focus has been on fire safety and the development of evacuation and assembly points for a particular market area in which this prototype is being tested. The safety of women and girls agenda will be embedded within the larger project. Building upon what is already known about the community’s priorities in terms of safety and security, there would be two specific aspects to this:
- Organizational Empowerment for Greater Safety: The Phephanathi Project is built on a foundation of grassroots risk management committees who have already been elected by their respective trader organizations, and have been through first aid and fire safety training. The majority of the risk management committees are made up of women, although in some markets men predominate. An ongoing element of this project would be to both further equip the market risk management committees to negotiate with the municipality over safety issues, and to bring into the open some of the deep seated gender tensions within the market which also contribute to women’s insecurity. Practical measures would involve:
- A capacity building course for all risk management committee members on advocacy and negotiation skills, which would later be put to use in Activity 3 (below).
- An ongoing process based on the idea of “gender dialogues” which would provide a facilitated safe environment for men and women to bring up and discuss their concerns around gender in the marketplace, with a long term goal of enhancing women’s voice in market decision making processes.
- Partnering with the City: One immediate area in which traders could partner with the city is through the Metro Police’s “crime hotspot” GIS mapping initiative. We know that this is a priority concern for the police, as they have already approached traders in Warwick Junction about participating in this initiative. Partnering with the police force on a crime-specific map would have the advantage of not only creating the map itself, but would also aid in the process of strengthening the relationship between traders and the police. It would also allow for a greater police presence in the area, because police are assigned to specific areas depending on the crime statistics from the previous week.
- Safer Infrastructure: Drawing on an existing methodology known as Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED), this would involve the development and implementation of a “safer spaces” campaign aimed particularly at female traders and commuters. The campaign would involve a number of steps:
- Female traders will carry out a participatory safety audit of the market areas. These traders would then attend a facilitated workshop where their experiences could be more fully explored and specific infrastructural interventions could be developed.
- Alongside urban designers, traders would help to design and develop an idea which we currently call “Transform 250m2.” This would involve designating 250m2 of market space and targeting it for safer infrastructure development. Although the infrastructure would ultimately depend on the traders, it is likely that the space would have a specifically designed “safer toilet,” good lighting, signage regarding safety in the market, as well as a security desk staffed by a trained trader where crime could be reported. Trader organizations would seek the approval of the municipality for the implementation of this infrastructure within the 250m2 limits.
- Once the infrastructure is in place, the traders using the area would, with the assistance of WIEGO and AeT, monitor the usage of the infrastructure as well the incidence of crime in the area. Interviews would also be carried out over a period of time to assess people’s perceptions of the area.
- The data derived from this exercise would be used to advocate, through the Phephanathi Platform, for the extension of this infrastructure to the rest of the market area.
- The original 250m2 space would be maintained and used as a prototype” for other communities in Durban to emulate.
- The specific interventions are all designed to be embedded within an institutional framework. This not only draws each individual intervention into a logical whole, but will also ensure sustainability.
- The prototype for the institutional framework is already being developed and tested within a specific community of traders, who have actively participated in its design and implementation.
- We know from our own experiences on the ground that the needs the project addresses are high priorities for the target community, and the target community will be centrally involved in all of the activities.
- We know that the eThekwini Municipality (Durban) will be receptive to the idea of improved safety for women and girls, as it is a subject that is foremost on the national agenda of local authorities in South Africa. The municipality has also recently openly declared its intention to enhance its development efforts in the Warwick Junction precinct.
- It builds on an existing, proven methodology of CPTED, which through a regeneration project in Warwick Junction during the mid-1990s was shown to decrease levels of crime in the area. See Working in Warwick for further information: http://wiego.org/wiego/working-in-warwick-street-traders
- It builds on the fact that dense populations of traders can act as a catalyst for the safety of the wider community.
- AeT’s longstanding experience and knowledge of Warwick Junction is a prior and invaluable project investment that will substantially reduce implementation risk.
Questions that we have for the Amplify community:
How can digital technology support the processes we describe above?
We know that traders have cell phones, but generally they do not own smart phones. Are there crowd mapping options which can be used with basic cell phones?
Are there existing designs out there for safer toilets (i.e. toilets that are less likely to make women vulnerable to assault)?