The research programmes of the initiative are inclusive and national in scope, seeking to draw on and integrate quality research and best practice. They involve a wide network of South African universities and organisations involved in policy research. [The overall research programme is guided and monitored by a Think Tank which consists of some 32 persons including four vice-chancellors, the CEO of the HSRC, nine of the country’s DST-NRF SARChI Chairs and others drawn from different sectors of society including business and faith based organisations.] The research areas, including social cohesion, education and training at all levels, as well as both rural and urban renewal, are well aligned with the focus that emerged from the 2012 conference which drew in over 300 papers from some 19 South African universities.

One of the key outcomes of the 2012 conference was to distil, from the research and the evidence from practice, a set of thematic focus areas which were understood to be central to breaking the cycle of persistent poverty and inequality in South Africa. These themes were:

  • The role of law

  • Unemployment

  • Using the land

  • Urban and environmental challenges

  • Health

  • Government Policy

  • Job Creators

  • Community Mobilisation


Analysing these in light both of further work in South Africa after the 2012 conference and of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals set in 2015 as the agenda for 2030 it seemed that most (though not all) of the most urgent topics could be brought under one or other of five major themes:

  • Social Cohesion

  • Education

  • Health

  • Rural and Urban Renewal

  • Labour Issues


Underlying these are the fundamental challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality. From the outset, the intent has been to launch and complete a serious work programme, focused on viable policy options and societal actions, within and across each of these areas as a substantial collective contribution to overcoming these fundamental challenges.

Strategies to Overcome Poverty and Inequality

The map below is interactive, click on the black dots for more information.


Administrative hub: UCT / MI Think Tank / Nelson Mandela Foundation / Online repository

Stats SA

South African Index of Multiple

Deprivation 2011 at Ward Level showing

former homeland boundaries

Ward boundaries (c) Statistics South Africa
SAIMD 2011 (c) SASPRI 2014