Violence, Injury and Peace Research Unit

Why injury and violence, safety and peace?

Injuries, along with AIDS, chronic diseases and diseases associated with poverty, comprise South Africa’s quadruple burden of disease. Intentional and unintentional injuries combined represented the second leading cause of all Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) for the year 2000. After AIDS, violence was the second leading cause of DALYs, with traffic accidents, fires and falls as the fourth, 19th and 20th leading causes respectively.

South Africa had 59 935 fatalities due to injury in 2000, translating into an overall injury death rate of 157.8 per 100 000 population. Furthermore, it is estimated that 3.5 million people annually seek healthcare for non-fatal injuries, meaning South Africa has one of the highest rates for death and disability due to injury in the world.

The major contributors to the injury burden are homicide (46%), transport-related incidents (26.7%) and suicide (9.1%). This injury burden is concentrated amongst low-income communities where a disproportionate share of this injury risk is located. Injuries and violence undermine social cohesion and the nation’s social and economic development, and represent a substantial burden of essentially preventable mortality and physical and emotional disability.

What makes VIPRU distinctive is the transdisciplinary approach to safety and peace promotion. The change of name from Presidential Crime, Violence and Injury Lead Programme to VIPRU was a paradigm shift, representing a move from a medically oriented “deficits and reduction of risks for crime, violence and injury” approach towards a promotive mode focused on building peace and safety.

This shift, linked to broader health promotion and peacebuilding approaches, places the accent on safety and peace promotion, and well-being rather than just injuries. In such a conceptualisation, safety and peace include physical, psychological, social, environmental and spiritual dimensions. This promotive perspective adopts multiple lenses and analyses and implements interventions to reduce, control and prevent crime, violence and injuries; and it seeks to identify, develop and support the positive determinants of peace and safety.

What makes VIPRU distinctive?

VIPRU draws its distinctiveness within the sector from its transdisciplinary orientation, including:

  1. The use of public health and social science concepts and currently marginalised indigenous and community-embedded knowledges;
  2. Concerted shift to safety and peace promotion;
  3. Emphasis on criticality and context;
  4. Accent on the social determinants of crime, violence and injury (e.g. historical colonisation, apartheid and globalisation), as well as safety and peace (e.g. equality, de-militarisation, good governance and social justice);
  5. Community engagement and responsiveness; and

Deployment of community-based participatory action research methodologies.

Last modified: 2018/10/24