University of Cape Town                                 donate


I can always rely on the Children's Institute's information to be accurate and of a high quality. In particular, I view them as leaders in the field of children's socio-economic rights (and in particular health rights). I am aware that they have also become involved with socio-economic rights litigation, which is enormously valuable work. The Institute also played a phenomenally important role in the Children's Bill process, the co-ordination of civil society participation was and continues to be a good practice model, without a doubt.
Dr Ann Skelton, Director: Centre for Child Law, Univ. of Pretoria, Sept. 2008

Completed Projects

Healthy cities

This project was part of a collaborative, inter-disciplinary study on the role of the urban environment in shaping illness, health and well-being, initiated by the African Centre for Cities at the University of Cape Town. As one of the project partners, the Children’s Institute led a sub-project on Healthy Cities for Children.

The Healthy Cities for Children component involved a multi-disciplinary research team to contribute to an understanding of the situation and well-being of children in diverse urban settings in South Africa. The research aimed to:

  • investigate how child nutrition and health are influenced by a particular urban setting and new urban planning;
  • develop a deeper understanding of the ways in which urban planning influences the accessibility of health care services and the health-seeking behaviour of children, youth and their caregivers;
  • contribute to understanding how various urban settings and the new urban planning affect networks of child care; and
  • grow research expertise in the fields of children’s studies and urban planning studies, and of “mixed methods” studies in these fields.

Assisted by supervisors and other mentor researchers, four post-graduate students focused on the impact of the urban environment on child nutrition; patterns of geographic mobility and child care arrangements; urban fatherhood and child care; and children's access to health facilities, respectively. A number of Healthy Cities for Children workshops and “Urban Child Citylabs” were organised between 2011 and early 2014 to bring together researchers, postgraduate students, urban town planners and policy-makers to discuss research evidence and debate how healthier urban environments can be created.

The Children’s Institute also contributed to the collaboration by conducting a first round of fieldwork in Khayelitsha, one of the largest townships in the country. Bodymap techniques were used to enable discussion on the concepts of health, well-being and the influence of the urban environment on these. Workshops in three different types of settlements showed a need to be careful with the uncontextualised copying of concepts of health and well-being developed in the North onto South Africa’s more complex, post-apartheid urban situation.

This research has assembled evidence to assist government decision-makers and practitioners to create policies, programmes and institutions that support children’s well-being in urban environments.

A grant from the South Africa–Netherlands Research Programme on Alternatives in Development (SANPAD) has supported this work.

Health Cities for Children project team: Children's Institute: Ariane De Lannoy, Katharine Hall. African Centre for Cities: Jane Battersby-Lennard. Department of Anthropology: Efua Prah, supervised by Susan Levine; Andile Mayekiso, supervised by Fiona Ross; Health Science Faculty: Manyeleti Sambo, supervised by Michael Hendricks. Researcher mentors: Shirley Pendlebury (Emeritus Professor at UCT); Ria Reis (Medical University of Leiden/University of Amsterdam); Karen Tranberg Hansen (North Western University, USA)

Further reading

Healthy Cities website (African Centre for Cities, UCT)

Quick Links

South African Child Gauge 2013

Children's Institute, University of Cape Town, 46 Sawkins Road, Rondebosch, 7700, South Africa  |  DIRECTIONS

E-MAIL   |  Tel: +27 (21) 650 1473  |  Fax: +27 (21) 650 1460

Copyright © 2012 Children's Institute, University of Cape Town