New research reveals the cost of providing shelter at time of a pandemic

Launch Invite

The Heinrich Boell Foundation (HBF) will launch its second research brief associated to its “Care and Support in a Time of Epidemic" research project on Thursday, 2 December 2021 from 10:00 to 11:30. The project is implemented in collaboration with the National Shelter Movement of South Africa and led by researchers Lisa Vetten and Kailash Bhana.

Whereas the first brief critically reviewed the available data on domestic and other types of violence during the lockdown, the second brief, “Adapting to Disaster: Domestic Violence Shelters and South Africa’s COVID-19 Lockdown provides a more nuanced exploration of what it was like to provide shelter services to those experiencing such violence during a time of great upheavel, distress and sometimes outright panic.   

Drawing from government circulars, directives and regulations and informed by 36 interviews undertaken with shelter personnel and key informants, the brief provides a detailed picture of how processes, procedures and actors came together to enable shelters to operate during the first few months of disaster.

The findings suggest that while the lockdown did result in resourcefulness and adaptability, often at great cost and sacrifice to shelters and personnel, it also revealed deeply entrenched fault-lines, pointing to practices and policy that led to some shelters’ sense of expendability and abandonment by the state.

To find out more on how shelters coped and to what extent government responses were effective or fell short during this time, please join HBF Programme Manager, Claudia Lopes, and researchers Lisa Vetten and Kailash Bhana on the 2nd of December. Speakers include Director of the Victim Empowerment Programme of the National Department of Social Development, Mr. S’busiso Malope, and executive member of the National Shelter Movement representing the Mpumalanga Provincial Shelter Movement, Fisani Mahlangu.

Notes to Editors/News Desks:

To attend the launch please register at

To request any interviews with researchers and/or shelters please contact Natasha Adonis via 079 799 9654 or

Mentions: @boellza @NSM_ZA @LisaVetten @BhanaKailash @claudia1lopes