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Research in ISD is organised into six major themes

1. Poverty and inequality
2. Social policy and social development
3. Urban and regional development
4. Technology, innovation and development
5. Social movements and civil society
6. Migration and development 


Funding partner: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

This project aims to accomplish these goals:

  1. to map refugee and asylum seeker representative structures as well as  responsibilities while  analysing the degree of representativeness and legitimacy in line with approved standards; 
  2. to undertake an inventory of community-based protection and solutions initiatives for self-help by persons of concern, including an analysis on whether persons of concern utilise local social support structures in an organised manner and/or effectively participate and/or are represented in such structures; 
  3. to obtain ideas and guidance from refugees and asylum seekers on how to build legitimate representation and strengthen community-based protection agency; and based upon the findings; and 
  4. to produce recommendations for a community representation and engagement model in South Africa. 
The project is being conducted in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban, Musina and Port Elizabeth. By the end of the project, the team is expected to produce a complete report with recommendations for a community representation and engagement model in South Africa.

Research team members: Prof Mulugeta F. Dinbabo, UWC (Principal Investigator); Prof Yanga Zembe, UWC, (Senior Researcher); Dr Sharon Penderis, UWC, (Senior Researcher); Mr Sergio Carciotto, SIHMA, (Senior Researcher); Dr Chris Nshimbi (UP), (Senior Researcher); Dr Vanya Gastrow (SIHMA, Senior Researcher). The project also involved the following postgraduate students: Mr Michael Nguatem Belebema, UWC, (PhD Candidate); Mr Jonas Nzabamwita, UWC, (PhD Candidate); Mr Kenny Chiwarawara, UWC, (PhD Candidate); Ms Maryan A. Ahmed, UWC, (MA Candidate); Mr Muauz Gidey Alemu, UP, (PhD Candidate); and Mr Leon Tshimpaka Mwamba, UP, (PhD Candidate).

Funding partner:
Center for the Study of Governance Innovation (GovInn)
The Migrafrica Project is one of the projects hosted by the Centre for the Study of Governance Innovation in collaboration with FAO. The study primarily seeks to highlight issues of migration and its drivers whilst advocating for effective migration policies. Part of the project involves conducting statistical analysis data management in selected countries within sub-Saharan Africa. Consequently, two main outputs are expected to be generated: an atlas and a working paper.

Research team members: Prof Mulugeta F. Dinbabo, UWC (Principal Investigator); Mr Michael Nguatem Belebema, UWC, (PhD Candidate).

Funding Partner: Pro-poor Policy Development Phase II, a partnership programme of the Presidency and the European Union.

The worldwide increase of obesity has been described as a global health epidemic that poses a considerable threat to the health and well-being of populations. Low and middle-income countries (LMIC) are not spared from the obesity pandemic and are continuing to reflect a rapid increase in body fat levels. 

Research shows that obesity is a major risk factor for non-communicable diseases and substantially increases the risk of hypertension, dyslipidemia, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, sleep apnoea as well as cancers of the endometrium, breast, prostate, and colon. The growing epidemic diverts scarce resources for the management of diseases such as diabetes and heart disease and impacts on the workplace as a result of increased absenteeism and decreased turnover. 

It is against this background that this research has focused on the link between food choices and Body Mass Index (BMI) in adults and children in South Africa. Both secondary data analysis and empirical fieldwork were used to gather the data required to answer the research question. Within the limited scope of this study, the research identified the kinds of food that was consumed in Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain in South Africa; assessed the circumstances and factors determining food consumption; identified the relationship between food choices and self-perceived health status and actual BMI measurements. The study also clearly identified that there are a number of determinants of food choice in Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain. These include the households’ income and the cost of food, accessibility and availability, cultural influences, palatability/taste, familiarity (especially for vegetables), education/knowledge, social setting, time constraints, religion and food choices, distance travelled to purchase food and food choices etc. Based on these findings, recommendations were proffered.

Research team members: Prof Mulugeta F. Dinbabo, UWC (Principal Investigator); Dr. Abdulrazak Karriem (Senior Researcher); Dr. Sharon Penderis (Senior Researcher), Prof Julian May (Senior Advisor); Prof Christopher Fulcher (Senior Advisor).The project had a participatory and capacity building focus in that it involved the following postgraduate students. Mr Michael Nguatem Belebema, (PhD Candidate); Mr Tlhabanyane Mogatosi, (MA Candidate); Ms Pozisa Zinja, (MA Candidate); Ms Nishaat Ms Gangen, (MA Candidate); Ms Razaan Adams, (MA Candidate) and Ms Nangamso Ngcwayi, (MA Candidate)

Funding Partner: Department of Social Development Western Cape Government 

Like all societies, migration patterns in South Africa, particularly in the Western Cape Province continue to generate significant implications not just for population growth but also for social development, both now and in the future. As such, the need to keep track of migration patterns and issues, even more having access to accurate and credible migration data within the Western Cape Province, is non-negotiable. 

It is against this background that the Western Cape Department of Social Development (DSD), under the auspices of the Population Unit, engaged the services of the Institute for Social Development (ISD) at the University of the Western Cape to evaluate migration data that capture migration trends and issues in the Western Cape and based on this, develop migration models for the Western Cape Province. Per the Service Level Agreement, nine deliverables were set.

Research team members: Dr Mulugeta F. Dinbabo (Principal Investigator); Prof Dr. Abdulrazak Karriem (Senior Researcher); Dr. Sharon Penderis (Senior Researcher), Dr Susan Ziehl (Senior Researcher) and Dr Yves Semegni (Senior Researcher).The project also had involved the following postgraduate students. Mr Michael Nguatem Belebema, (PhD Candidate); Mr Clement Mensah (PhD Candidate) and Ms Shamiso Mandioma (PhD Candidate).

Funding Partner: Department of Social Development Western Cape Government 

The Western Cape Government (WCG) appointed Research ICT Africa to develop a Western Cape Network Readiness Index, along the lines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) e-Readiness Index and to conduct an impact study of broadband rollout for Khayelitsha, Mitchells Plain, and Saldanha Bay.

The project was divided into three phases:
  1. developing methodologies and determining data availability; 
  2. creating a WC Network Readiness Index (NRI) by conducting a baseline communication access and use study in the three identified areas; and 
  3. conducting an impact assessment of broadband initiatives in these areas. 
The project was conducted by a consortium of tenders which included the University of the Western Cape and the University of Cape Town. The University of the Western Cape was represented by Prof Julian May, Dr Mulugeta Dinbabo and Ms Jacqueline Tamri.

This study considered the usefulness of census-taking in the light of its costs effectiveness. It aimed at gathering empirical evidence to support future plans for census-taking, as well as to contribute towards improving results dissemination and opportunities identification for maximising the usage of the count. Funded by the Statistics Service of South Africa, the project was jointly undertaken by ISD and the Department of Statistics, Northwestern University. Staff members involved were Prof. Julian May and Dr. Mulugeta Dinbabo, with Ms. Jacquiline Tamri who is a Masters Student in ISD.

This study made use of the second wave of the South African National Income Dynamics Study (NIDS) to explore trends and explanations for inequalities in child mortality, progression through school and nutritional status. The project was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council of the United Kingdom. It was undertaken in collaboration with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the University of Cape Town and the Children’s Institute. The staff members involved were Prof. Julian May and Ms Winnie Sambu.

This capacity building project sought to identify and link younger researchers in Africa with experienced researchers in both developed and developing countries. The objective was to develop social science capacity for the analysis of ICT and development. The project was conducted in collaboration with the Nanyang University of Technology (Singapore) and the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú. It was funded by the IDRC. The staff members involved were Prof. Julian May, with Ms. Kathleen Diga.

Child Watch International (CWI) and the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) commissioned a research project with the objective to identify gaps on the current situation of children’s rights based research by pinpointing its strengths and weaknesses, to expand and deepen the knowledge base on the state of children’s rights and to come up with a scientifically sound rights-based global research agenda. The study was conducted by Dr. Mulugeta Dinbabo, who picked and assessed two themes that were itemised on children’s rights as an outcome of the Call for Action from the Children’s Rights at a Cross-Roads conference.

The Case of Abahlali baseMjondolo. This research project investigated mobilisations for housing by the South African Shack Dwellers Movement or Abahlali baseMjondolo in Cape Town. The study sought to highlight the complex and multifaceted ways in which social movement mobilisations for housing operates, the internal and external outcomes they produce, and their on-going struggles for democratising the city. Funded by the UWC Research fund, the study was led by Dr Abdulrazak Karriem in collaboration with ISD masters students.

This collaborative project with the School of Government involved a review of secondary data and administrative records from the two major public works programmes being undertaken in South Africa. The research investigated public finance allocations, the numbers being employed and reviewed findings from monitoring and evaluation reports. Prof. Julian May and Dr. Leon Pretorius worked on this project under the auspices of the Office of the President.

This project was funded by the IDRC by providing travel and capacity building support for 40 emerging researchers in developing countries. Prof. Julian May and Ms. Jacqui Tamri worked on this project.

This project was funded by the IDRC by providing travel and capacity building support for 40 emerging researchers in developing countries. Prof. Julian May and Ms. Jacqui Tamri worked on this project.






Ikebuaku, K & Dinbabo, MF 2018 Beyond entrepreneurship education: business incubation and entrepreneurial capabilities. 
Journal of Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies 10(1): Pp 154-157
Conradie I; Walker, M and Ziegler, H 2018 Informal workers and human development in South Africa' in Otto. Capability Promoting Policies.
Bristol: Policy Press
Penderis, S & Tapscott, C 2018 The Establishment of a Democratic Developmental Local State in South Africa: Between Rhetoric and Reality. In The Democratic Developmental State: North-South Perspectives. Columbia University Press. Published
Dinbabo, MF. 2017 Migration Research and Analysis: Growth, Reach and Recent Contributions. In: IOM - International Organization for Migration. Eds. World Migration Report 2018, IOM: Geneva. Pp: 318-320. Published
Bengtsson, K., Ibsen, H. & Penderis, S. 2017 To fit or not to fit, that´s the question: A framework for the study of indigenous knowledge and development. In knowledge for justice critical perspectives from southern African-Nordic research partnerships. Cape Town: African Minds. Published
Halvorsen, T., Ibsen, H., Evans, H & Penderis, S (Eds). 2017 Knowledge for justice critical perspectives from southern African-Nordic research partnerships. Cape Town: African Minds. Published
Dinbabo MF, Belebema M & Mensah, C 2017 South Africa: Territorial Imbalances but Growing Rural–Urban Linkages. In: Mercandalli, S. & Losch, B., Eds. Rural Africa in motion. Dynamics and drivers of migration South of the Sahara. Rome, FAO and CIRAD. PP.36-37. Published
Osei Sampson;
Karriem A
2017 Social Capital and Climate Change Adaptation among Smallholder Farmers in the Central Region of Ghana. In Kuwornu, J. (ed). Assessment of the Vulnerability and Adaptation of Food Supply Chains to Climate Change. Delaware, USA: Vernon Press. Forthcoming
Dinbabo M, Belebema & Mensah, C 2017 Diversity of Rural Migrants’ Profiles. In: Mercandalli, S. & Losch, B., Eds. Rural Africa in motion.
Dynamics and drivers of migration South of the Sahara. Rome, FAO and CIRAD. PP 24-25
Karriem A & M, Hoskins 2016 From the RDP to the NDP: A Critical Appraisal of the Developmental State, Land Reform and Rural Development in South Africa. Politikon: South African Journal of Political Studies, 43(3): 325-343 Published
Adeniyi, D. & Dinbabo MF 2016 Evaluating Outcomes from Stakeholders’ Perception: Evidence from an Irrigation Project in Nigeria. 
Ghana Journal of Development Studies (GJDS), 13(2): Pp: 26-47
Karriem, A 2016 Grassroots Politics and Social Movement Mobilizations for Development in Brazil. In Poverty and Inequality in Middle Income Countries: Policy Achievements, Political Obstacles, E. Braathen, J. May and G. Wright (eds). London: Zed Books Published
Karriem, A and L. Benjamin 2016 How Civil Society Organizations Foster Insurgent Citizenship:  Lessons from the Brazilian Landless Movement. VOLUNTAS: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations, 27(1): 19-36. Published
Sithole, S. & Dinbabo, MF.  2016 Exploring youth migration and the food security nexus: Zimbabwean youths in Cape Town, South Africa. African Human Mobility Review (AHMR). 2 (2): Pp: 512-537.  Published
Philander, F. and A Karriem 2016 Assessment of Urban Agriculture as a Livelihood Strategy for Household Food Security: An Appraisal of Urban Gardens in Langa, Cape Town. International Journal of Arts & Sciences, 9(1):327–338 Published
Ziehl, S., Dinbabo, M, Karriem, A, Penderis, S & Semegni, Y. 2016 Evaluation of migration data and modeling migration in the Western Cape. Research Report. Cape Town: Department of Social Development. Published
Ile, I & Dinbabo, MF 2015 Evidence based policy-making: Chinese investment's impact on women in sub-Saharan Africa. In: Diallo, L & Shizha, E. (Eds.). Africa in the Age of Globalization: Perceptions, Misperceptions and Realities. 
Canada. Ashgate Publication. Pp: 151-170.
Vilakazi, F & Dinbabo, MF 2015 Regulation of African traditional medicines and public participation: Empirical evidence from South Africa.
Studies on Ethno Medicine. 9(1): 109-116.
Dinbabo, MF. & Carciotto, S 2015 International migration in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA): A call for a global research agenda. 
African Human Mobility Review (AHMR). 1(2): 154-177.
Dinbabo, MF. & Nyasulu, T 2015 Macroeconomic determinants:  analysis of ‘Pull’ factors of international migration in South Africa. 
African Human Mobility Review (AHMR). 1(1): 27-52.
Penderis, SP 2014 Theorizing participation: from tyranny to emancipation. Journal of African and Asian Local Government Studies 1(3), 1-28 Published
Dinbabo, M. 2014 Contractual relationships between indigenous CBOs and the community: empirical evidence from Ethiopia. Journal of Social Sciences. 38(3):231-240. Published
Ile, I.  & Dinbabo, MF. 2014 Evaluating the impact of selected Social Welfare Policies in South Africa (1994-2014): Challenges and Opportunities. Loyola Journal of Social Sciences. XXIX (2): 136-157.  Published
Callistus, A. & Dinbabo, MF. 2014 Social grant, livelihood empowerment and poverty reduction at the household level: empirical evidence from Ghana. Journal of Social Sciences. 39(3): 293-302. Published
Conradie, I. & I. Robeyns 2013 Aspirations and human development interventions.”  Journal of Human Development and Capabilities.
Vol. 14(4), pp. 559-580.
Conradie, I 2013 Can deliberate efforts to realise aspirations increase capabilities A South African case study.”
Oxford Development Studies 14(2):189-219.
Dinbabo, MF. 2013 Child rights in sub-Saharan Africa: a call for a Rights-Based Global Research Agenda. 
Journal of Social Work. 48(1): 271 – 293.
Carciotto, S. & Dinbabo, MF. 2013 Role of Development Communication in Fostering Social Change: Evidence from Lesotho. 
Journal of Communication. 4(2): 65-70.
Hunter, N and May, J. 2013 Age, employment and health in South Africa, in Maharaj, P., (ed.) Aging and Health in Africa. 
Springer, New York, 171-196
Karriem, A. 2013 Space, Ecology, and Politics in the Praxis of Brazil’s Landless Movement. In Gramscian Geographies: Space, Ecology, Politics, London: Wiley-Blackwell Published
Penderis, SP 2012 Interrogating the emerging South African developmental   state. Africanus 42(1), 4-15. Published
Conradie, I 2011 Human Development and Development Intervention: Can Community Development increase Capabilities” The Social Work Practitioner/Researcher, Vol. 23(3):267-283 Published
Thompson, Lisa & Conradie, Ina 2011 Women Leaders and Intermediary Organisations in Khayelitsha, South Africa” in Jha, Vikas, Vaishnava,
Bhavita & Bandyopadhyay, Kasutuv Kanti (Editors): Citizen Leadership. New Delhi: Academic Foundation
Thompson, Lisa & Conradie, Ina 2011 From Poverty to power Womens Participation in Intermediary Organisations in Site C, Khayelitsha”, in Africanus, Vol 4 (1). Published
Suffla S. and M. Seedat 2010 Peace, its Indices and Implications for Swaraj. Social Change, 40(4): 439-457 Published
Karriem, A 2009 The Rise and Transformation of the Brazilian Landless Movement into a Counter-hegemonic Political Actor: A Gramscian Analysis. Geoforum, 40(3): 316-325 Published
Karriem, A 2009 The Brazilian Landless Movement: Mobilization for Transformative Politics. In Y. Atasoy (ed.), Hegemonic Transitions, The State and Crisis in Neoliberal Capitalism. London & New York: Routledge Published
September, R. and Dinbabo MF 2008 Gearing Up for Implementation: A New Children's Act for South Africa. Practice: 
Social Work in Action. 20(2): 113-122.
Karriem, A 2005 Marching as to War": A Letter from Brazil to South Africa about Landlessness,
Agrarian Reform and Social Movement Struggles against Neoliberalism. Revista Nera, 8(6): 1-13.
Goldsmith, W., A. Karriem, and H. Wittman. 2002 Boss Nova in Brazil. The Bookpress, 12(7). Published