Facilitating or hindering social cohesion? The impact of the Community Work Programme in selected South African townships
This article discusses the contribution of the Community Work Programme (CWP) to social cohesion, a term that is widely used in post-apartheid South Africa.1 The article is based on a study that examined the contribution of the CWP to violence prevention. The study by researchers from the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation was conducted in six communities: Ivory Park, Orange Farm and Kagiso (situated in Gauteng), Bokfontein (North West Province), and Grabouw and Manenberg (Western Cape). Some work undertaken through the CWP, such as programmes against gangsterism, drug abuse and domestic violence, are directly aimed at addressing violence and may not have been possible had the CWP not provided an enabling context for such activities. However, we show in this article that that the impact of the CWP is not always positive and that the CWP may in some cases result in tensions and contradictions that hinder social cohesion and even cause violence. If not implemented in a consultative participatory manner, the CWP may be a source of conflict rather than of social cohesion. It is thus necessary to ensure that the CWP is implemented with integrity if it is to contribute to positive social cohesion and prevent violence.