In 2017 and 2018, during a period of xenophobic violence against Somalis in the Western Cape, ALPS conducted outreach activities in the Cape Town townships where violence was occurring. During this community outreach, ALPS identified a need for greater intercultural and intergenerational dialogue between locals and foreign nationals to identify the underlying causes of xenophobia, the catalysts for violence, and avenues for enhancing social cohesion and community resilience.
With the support of USAID, ALPS was able to design a project that would address this need not only in the Western Cape, but also in four additional provinces. In the second of half of 2018, ALPS, along with its research partner, the Safety and Violence Initiative (SaVI) from the University of Cape Town (UCT), began the research and phase of the project, identifying the drivers of xenophobia, levels of existing community resilience, and key actors within the each of the locations. The resulting situational analyses will provide the evidence base necessary to design and implement effective, context-specific community dialogues in 2019.
People to People (P2P) Dialogues Project
The People to People Dialogues (P2P) project is a 15-month project funded by USAID that aims to foster social cohesion in South African communities by improving relationships between foreign nationals and locals. ALPS, in partnership with local facilitators and community organisations, will host a series of dialogues across the Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Gauteng, Kwa-Zulu Natal, and North West provinces. These dialogues will provide a platform to promote mutual understanding, shared identities, trust, empathy and resilient social ties.
Xenophobic violence in South Africa made international headlines in 2008, when anti-immigrant attacks left at least 62 people dead, 670 wounded and more than 150,000 displaced. Since 2008, xenophobia remains entrenched in South Africa, periodically erupting into violent xenophobic attacks that predominantly occur in townships and informal settlements.
The drivers of xenophobic violence are multiple and embedded within complex socio-political-economic dynamics. Attackers often claim that foreigners are stealing jobs from South Africans or conducting activities that make their communities less safe, such as dealing drugs or facilitating prostitution. Often, foreign nationals are a scapegoat for challenges in South Africa: since the country’s democratization in 1994, transformation has been slow and painful, with at least one fifth of South Africans still living in poverty.