The change we want to see

our theory of change

DAG’s programmes seek to mobilise and capacitate grassroots initiatives on socio-economic rights and spatial justice issues in order to improve advocacy around the challenges and lived realities of marginalised urban communities. These communities are spatially and economically segregated, living mostly on the city periphery, in either informal settlements, dormitory townships, temporary relocation areas or in neighbourhoods experiencing increasing market-led evictions and pre-emptive exclusion.

DAG is deeply committed to the fight for socio-economic rights and spatial justice, with particular reference to the right to access safe and affordable housing opportunities.  Our mission is to facilitate the creation of resilient, diverse, equitable and democratic cities through the proactive participation of civil society, government, and the private sector to address spatial, social, and economic inequalities.

DAG’s long term organisational goal is to see: Inclusive and equitable cities realised for dispossessed communities through active citizenry.

dag goals

DAG’s programmes aim to achieve our organisational goal of Inclusive and equitable cities realised for dispossessed communities through active citizenry.

These are all geared to achieving the following six strategic outcomes over the short to medium term:

  • Increased public and private delivery of affordable and accessible housing
  • Active community participation and co-production of integrated and inclusive neighbourhoods
  • Increased social investment to realise spatial justice
  • Well capacitated communities, local authorities and civil society (actors) grow their agency to co-lead development projects
  • Communities effectively engage local key stakeholders in both the private and government sectors
  • Communities inform development projects through participatory processes
DAG Approaches

At the heart of our work is an appreciation of community organising and activism. DAG employs six key approaches in the implementation of our programmes.


DAG works in a collaborative and participatory manner with a range of community-based organisations, academics, non-government organisations, developers, and government officials to develop and implement joint advocacy programmes and initiatives. This has been enabled through high levels of mutual respect and trust between partners. DAG has supported numerous emerging and existing community-based coalitions and networks in Cape Town in their efforts to collectively develop and implement joint advocacy strategies around informal settlements, homelessness, and land. DAG also entered various strategic partnerships to deliver on multiyear programmes including: the Backyard Matters Initiative in partnership with the Isandla Institute; the Asivikelane Campaign (Western Cape) in partnership with the International Budget Partnership, and the National Land Value Capture Programme in partnership with the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and National Treasury’s City Support Programme. In addition, DAG is also a member of further international networks, including the UN Habitat Global Land Tool Network and Habitat International Coalition.

Coalitions, networks, and partnerships


DAG provides socio-technical support at a neighbourhood and city-wide scale, which includes providing ad-hoc and tailored support to community-based organisations located in Cape Town and the Western Cape. Over the last three years DAG has provided socio-technical support to 28 Community Based Organisations (CBOs) from across Cape Town in their struggle to unlock land, improve access to basic services and implement joint advocacy strategies. Several communities are making strides in their advocacy for access to land and housing.

Socio-technical support


DAG has a long and extensive track record of demonstrating best practice projects in partnership with communities, micro-developers and the state in the delivery of housing, basic services and land tenure. In 2013, DAG facilitated the construction of 2 173 ePHP houses in Khayelitsha. In the last three years, DAG’s technical support to micro-developers has resulted in R13 million in investment finance being unlocked to build 105 rental housing units over a period of three years.

Project Demonstration


DAG facilitates formal action-oriented learning in the form of annual training courses and workshops for civil society leaders, activists, micro-developers, entrepreneurial contractors, and local government officials from across South Africa. Over the last three years, DAG’s Active Citizens Training Course (ACTC) has enrolled and capacitated 102 participants from 62 neighbourhoods in Cape Town. DAG’s Contractor and Developer Academy also often offers customised training, mentorship, and technical support to contractors & developers to deliver affordable rental housing in townships. In addition, DAG runs technical training sessions and peer to peer learning workshops for officials, built environment professionals and civil society organisations on innovative Land Value Capture tools and strategies.

Facilitation and training workshops


DAG facilitates learning exchanges between different community-based organisations that are experiencing similar challenges. In these exchanges they are able to learn from each other’s strategies and, in turn, enhance collective advocacy at the grassroots level. DAG also hosts a range of dialogues, including an Urban Dialogue Series which over the last three years has brought together over 380 civil society stakeholders and community leaders. This dialogue series creates a platform for urban stakeholders to collaborate on the development of urban reforms related to informal settlements and national housing policy shifts. A Township Developers Forum was established in 2022, emerging from another series of dialogues with micro-developers. This forum has nearly 100 members who are now also members of the Western Cape Property Development Forum. In 2018, the Land Value Capture Dialogues Series contributed towards the conceptual framing of the City of Cape Town Inclusionary Housing Policy.

Learning exchanges and dialogues


DAG facilitates both participatory action planning and evidence-based research. Participatory action planning is undertaken with community-based partners to prepare their own strategic neighbourhood level development plans, submissions, policy inputs or comments through the strategic use of community data. This includes neighbourhood enumerations, sustainable livelihood analysis, participatory GIS research, social audits, community profiles, and local area-based planning via asset mapping. DAG’s evidence-based research applied policy and legal research is often undertaken in collaboration with local and international partners, and has formed the basis of many joint submissions, urban policy reforms and innovative programmes. Supplementing this, are case study reports and/or process documentation that is shared with a wide range of stakeholders to inform current practices in the sector.

Participatory action planning and evidence-based research


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