IMPACT STUDY ON DIVERSION PROGRAMMES IN PROGRESS AT NORTHAM, LIMPOPO

Youth violence is deeply normalised in South Africa and is fundamentally influenced by the high levels of
violence throughout South African society at large. As a result, the line between victim and perpetrator
is often difficult to determine because so many young perpetrators have also been victims of severe
violence, in their homes, schools and communities.

Research shows that violence prevention measures with a strong focus on youth have the greatest
potential to reduce violence and crime rates across society. By addressing the root causes of youth
violence and strengthening young people’s resilience to risk factors, prevention efforts can reduce youth’s
susceptibility to violence and crime and thus increase safety for all of society.
There is a critical need to understand the efficacy of Khulisa’s crime prevention and diversion
programmes being delivered throughout the country, especially where resources for young people are
limited and the needs are limitless.
There is strong evidence to support that diversion programs, when properly implemented, reduce reoffending.
However, there has not been much research focusing on how diversion programs achieve
this impact, in the form of program theory, which is critical to the development and resourcing of these
services.

Aims & Methodology

In November 2020, Khulisa contracted Sheri Errington, theory of Change expert, to design and implement
a study to evaluate the impact of Khulisa’s crime prevention and diversion interventions on young people
in Northam, with an extended focus on understanding the key mechanisms of the programme. The study
included a review of programme documentation, quantitative data collection and a series of in-depth
interviews with young people, parents and key stakeholders involved in the programme. One crucial
element of the study was a workshop designed to engage key Diversion staff and stakeholders in the
process of developing a Theory of Change for the programme, as a participatory approach to gaining
insight into staff and stakeholder perceptions of impact and change.

Preliminary Results

The quantitative data has thus far highlighted key risk factors for young people in Northam, and their
pathways into prevention and intervention programmes. The interviews with young people and parents
have illustrated the value of these services in contributing to positive development, improved family
relationships and as a source of much needed support. Interviews with stakeholders also pointed to
the important role that Khulisa plays in the local community, with evidence pointing to Khulisa being
experienced by local police and probation services as an impactful partner in crime prevention,
contributing to an overall reduction in reoffending amongst youth in the area.
The Theory of Change workshop proved to be immensely valuable, promoting meaningful engagement
in the process that resulted in increased buy-in to the importance of monitoring and evaluation, a shared
understanding of the programme and significant insights into the diversion programme theory.
While the impact study on the Northam Diversion programme is being written up, the Theory of Change
process has been extended into a series of workshops for each of Khulisa’s provincial offices.

About the Theory of Change (ToC)

ToC is gaining increasing recognition as a robust tool for programme development and evaluation. It is
a participatory, theory driven approach to describing the causal pathways through which a programme
is hypothesized to have an effect. These workshops intend to assist Khulisa in the strengthening of their
Monitoring and Evaluation framework, by promoting:
1. The development of robust evaluation questions,
2. Identifying key indicators for monitoring,
3. Pinpointing gaps in available data and prioritizing data collection, and
4. Providing a structured approach to analysis and reporting.
Both the impact study and the Theory of Change workshops will have an unquestionable impact on
improving program design, development and delivery.

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