The teaching of activism has shrunk remarkably in South Africa. There has been a continuous decrease in the investment of building the capacity of young activists and future leaders. Resistance and understanding power go hand in hand. With this as a backdrop, the Active Citizens Training Programme (ACTP) aims to strengthen the capacity of a wide range of stakeholders from across the city. The programme’s objectives are to foster strong non-patriarchial, non-corrupt leadership and peer to peer learning. The programme has four core strategies- targeted training relating to land, housing and exclusion; peer to peer learning between organisations through urban forums; providing on request socio-technical support to community based and civic organisations; And supporting & preparing young practitioners for the current local, national and international challenges.

Read more from DAG’s Community Activism and Social Justice Publication

Active citizens training

Active Citizen Training supports community based leaders across the city to understand, debate and discuss their land and housing rights.  Through targeted learning, community leaders are supported to strengthen their organisations by identifying well-located vacant land, basic infrastructure, economic opportunities and buildings for improving their neighbourhoods and communities. The programme will be facilitated using action learning and participatory approaches that will build alliances, capacity and confidence of community leaders, activists and change agents who will work with DAG in co-ordinating research, policy and advocacy and lobbying.

To participate in the programme, contact us



Women making her-story in community development
Today we honour and celebrate Lungiswa Ntshuntshe, a vibrant Active Citizens Training Programme (ACTP) participant and Chairperson of Mandela Park Back-yarders, a community-based organisation in Khayelitsha. Lungiswa is a remarkable young community leader and activist who is standing up for what she believes in and making the voice of her #community heard through advocating for decent housing and basic services for back-yarders living in her neighbourhood.
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Socio-technical support

Socio-technical support is an approach to providing a combination of organising and technical support to communities. As DAG, we understand that the approach to development is as much infrastructural and technical, as it is about people and community networks. DAG works on a requested basis and customises its support for the type of need. Most frequently, DAG is requested for support around evictions, identifying and developing proposals for parcels of land and unpacking the development process to community networks.

DAG: COVID_19 Relief Aid 2020
Our organisation has been directly involved in relief aid to ensure that communities have access to #food, clean & safe #water & #sanitation and people remain informed and supported during this challenging period.
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Grand Parade Merchants Association (GPMA)

The GPMA has been in existence for approximately 50 years. This association has a simple constitution guiding membership and operational running of the GPMA. Over the last 20 years, the GPMA have experienced many challenges, including the violent riots which broke out around ‘94’ – where many of their stalls were vandalised, burned and even destroyed. Many of their 100-year lease agreements were lost in this process as well as other important historical records disadvantaging their security of tenure. There have also been waves of maintenance undertaken by the City of Cape Town which in the past has been managed with little disruption to the traders, including the 2008 upgrades and the pre-2010 world cup upgrades. However, recently the CoCT issued a notice to the GPMA to vacate their kiosks. To carry out interior renovation forming part of a bigger plan to revitalise the Grand Parade.

  • Supported the undertaking of a stallholder survey on the Grand Parade
  • Mapping institutions on the Grand Parade, and their power dynamics
  • Undertook a desktop analysis of frameworks/ plans in place influencing developments on the Grand Parade and surrounds
  • Investigating historic tenure status of status on the Grand Parade and unearthing the history of traders on the Grand Parade
  • Served as a liaison between the GPMA and LRC, for administrative purposes
Urban Professional Development

In moving towards an equitable built environment, urban professionals have a deep influence on developmental outcomes.  DAG places significant emphasis on enhancing the capacity of urban professionals, with the aim of developing more socially-conscious professionals that are equipped with the tools to bring about long-lasting pro-poor change. We understand, doing so, requires constant engagement with those professionals in all sectors, governmental, non-governmental, institutions and private firms as well.

Some of the ways we influence urban professionals are through the following:

  • Working with young urban professionals through the Global Citizenship Programme and UCT Community Development MPhil, see Resources – Programme Information hyperlink
  • Involvement with the UWC programme
  • Guest lecturing at various universities on urban development matters
  • Municipal Officials training at UCT

Since 2015, DAG partnered with a range of local and international academic institutions to support young urban professional capacity building, including the School of Engineering and the Built Environment; Development Planning Unit (DPU) at the University College London, University of Fort Hare; Stellenbosch University School of Public Leadership; London School of Economics; UNISA International Honours Programme (USA) and the University of Fort Hare. In addition to a number of guest lectures and interviews with students, DAG partnered with the Centre for Innovation, Learning and Teaching (SILT) at UCT on the Civil Engineering Social Infrastructure, a one month winter school course, to host the community engagement process of the module, including exposure learning opportunities and site visits to projects on the ground. DAG played a specialized role in facilitating and coordinating the exposure learning opportunities with four CBO partners. DAG also partnered with UCT on the MPhil programme in Urban Infrastructure Design and Management: Community Development module. Throughout the year DAG supported the capacity building of some 200 young urban professionals. DAG also began discussions with the National Department of Human Settlements concerning their Capacity Building Programme.

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