Violence, Injury and Peace Research Unit

Risk and Derterminants Specialised Studies

Safe and Sustainable Energy Project

Energy poverty, that is, the lack of access to modern energy, is one of the key manifestations of structural violence in poor South African communities. The energy-poor face risks of health impairment from toxic smoke and burn injuries and are often involved in energy services delivery protests. The overarching goal of the Safe and Sustainable Energy Project (SSEP) is to contribute to the promotion of the health, safety and peace of the energy-poor, through improving their access to clean and safe energy.

The intervention suite is composed of solar power (for electrical services), biogas (for cooking and heating), and cool coatings (for passive cooling and thermal comfort). These technologies are set up at the ISHS Demonstration Site, which is accessible to members of community.

The project has three phases:

Phase 1: Establishment of the Demonstration Site and assessment of technology performance and formative evaluations
Phase 2: Pilot study
Phase 3: Controlled implementation of promising energetic options in community sites and measurement of social and health impacts

Expected benefits include safety promotion, green knowledge transfers between community and academicians, economic activities in the value chain, and environmental protection and enhancement. In 2017, Dr David Kimemia and colleagues published “Cookstove options for safety and health: comparative analysis of technological and usability attributes” in Energy Policy, and “Community energization: Demonstration and implementation of safe, clean, and sustainable energy” in the 2017 International Conference on the Domestic Use of Energy Conference Proceedings.


Domestic Paraffin Appliance Use and Safety

There is a lack of coherent information on the complex problem of energy poverty and burns, which has contributed to uncoordinated and often disjointed official responses to burn prevention in South Africa. The Domestic Paraffin Appliance Use and Safety study emphasises the contributions of domestic layout and circumstances, energy appliances, and caregiver characteristics in the risk exposure of children.

This project contributes towards more synthesised descriptions of the interactions between the home environments, social circumstances and human dynamics in burn events. In 2017 Prof Ashley Van Niekerk and colleagues published the article “Household and caregiver characteristics and behaviours as predictors of unsafe exposure of children to paraffin appliances” in the international journal Burns, and he and Dr David Kimemia published the article “Energy poverty, shack fires and childhood burns” in the South African Medical Journal.


The Social Anatomy of (Non)-Violent Protest in Gauteng Province

As a contribution to the development of an evidence-base and theoretical platform from which public violence prevention policy and practice may be informed, the project aims to further understanding about the social anatomy of (non-)violent public protests (2001-2015) in Gauteng, and study violent public protests as a political and psychological conjectural moment.

The specific objectives are to:

  1. Delineate the incidence and geographical distribution of (non-) violent public protests in Gauteng (2001-2015) including its three largest metropolitan cities
  2. Determine the socio-structural ecology, namely the area level characteristics (e.g. crime rates, poverty, concentration of youthful population, and access to services) correlated with violent public protests in Gauteng
  3. Determine whether changes in area level characteristics are associated with changes in the incidence of violent protests over time (2001-2005, 2011-2015)
  4. Establish whether there are differences in socio-demographic characteristics, civic engagement, and perceptions of government’s performance between citizens who have not protested, protested, and protested and used violence for a political cause
  5. Determine the immediate situational triggers (e.g. relationship dynamics, dominant feelings, police actions and perceptions at a given moment in the protests) for violence in public protests
  6. Study (non-)violent protests as dynamic multimodal phenomena
  7. Explore the meanings that protestors in selected communities and police who attend to protest attribute to the contributors, triggers, circumstances and enactments of violent protests.

Drowning Prevention and Water Safety in the Western Cape

In 2017, the Western Cape Department of Local Government commissioned VIPRU to develop a Strategic Framework for Drowning Prevention and Water Safety. The Western Cape has reported approximately 200 drownings per year, with children under the age of five years most at risk.

The Framework identifies priority drowning risks, high-risk activities, equipment and the populations most affected. It highlights evidence-based prevention efforts that are being implemented internationally and locally, and other promising efforts that may be appropriate for the prevention of drowning in the Western Cape.

The Strategic Framework has prioritised seven objectives that promote water safety and help prevent drowning in targeted population groups and areas. These are to

  1. establish a provincial information system based on existing platforms
  2. strengthen advocacy and enforcement of priority policy measures
  3. promote multi-sectoral partnerships and water safety collaborations
  4. strengthen institutional prevention capacity
  5. strengthen public and specialised education and community awareness
  6. develop priority barrier interventions
  7. develop priority infrastructural interventions.

VIPRU continues to focus on selected contributions to strengthen the still-emerging knowledge base in South Africa, and is conducting selected analyses of epidemiological and qualitative information on drowning incidents, trends, demographics, the circumstances of occurrence, and priorities for drowning prevention in the Western Cape.

Last modified: 2019/06/26