The University of Cape Town has set a strategic goal to expand and enhance its contribution to South Africa's development challenges. The University is committed to engaged, policy-relevant research and teaching, as well as to expanding opportunities for students to become directly involved in socially-responsive learning. In addition, Economics is a discipline which is closely linked to the national policy agenda in a very wide range of areas, and so the School of Economics has chosen this platform to drive their engagement with social responsiveness. 

At the DPRU, we share UCT's aim to "ensure that our research contributes to the public good through sharing knowledge for the benefit of society and through fostering the acquisition of the civic literacy, knowledge and skills necessary to build a more just, equitable and unified South African society".

The Unit's social responsiveness engagements take varied forms including:

  • research activities
  • engagement with policy development
  • public commentary on development issues and strategies
  • social outreach activities by staff

Social Outreach Activities by Staff:

Santa's Shoebox Project: 2022 team pledge

November 2023

This year the DPRU pledged to volunteer at the Santa Shoebox collection point. Again, our warmest thanks to Rob for spearheading this initiative, and appreciation to Wadia and Lisa for their time and efforts on the day!

DPRU Santa Shoebox drive 2023DPRU Santa Shoebox drive 2023DPRU Santa Shoebox drive 2023

Night Run to Honour Nurses

9 September 2023

For the DPRU's Q3 CSR activity, we again supported the Night Run for Nurses that took place on Sat, 9 September 2023. The 7km length of the course is symbolic of the 7-7 shifts worked by nurses, and this family-friendly fun run is open to everyone: both walkers and runners are welcome to participate. Once more there was a need for volunteers to assist with registration of participants on the day, and some of our enthusiastic DPRU staff committed to support this worthy cause.

Night run for nurses - team
Night Run for Nurses_crowd


DPRU Blankets for Madiba Day & Women's Month

July & August 2023

We were delighted to hand over  5 beautiful new blankets to the 67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela ambassadors, in time for Women’s month in August.

DPRU Team blanket handover

Three were made out of squares crocheted and knitted by staff members and sewn together by Rob and Sarah. Two additional donations, fully created by Morné, bring our total blanket contribution to 9, and the team are justifiably very proud.

Blanket handover

In 2022 and 2023, the team learned how to crochet baby beanies with the leftover yarn from our blanket projects. We were thrilled to be able to donate a full parcel of colourful hats in different sizes, to another very worthy cause - the maternity ward at the Bothasig community clinic. Thank you to our prolific crocheters, and to Wadia for arranging the delivery. 


DPRU handover of baby beanies

Santa's Shoebox Project: 2022 team pledge

November 2022

It was with much pride and excitement that the DPRU delivered 25 Santa Shoeboxes to the collection point for this year's project. A big thank you to Rob and Sarah for their time, effort and commitment to coordinating everything. Thanks team!



October 2022

The DPRU pledged 25 gift boxes to children in need this year. Staff made generous cash contributions that the DPRU matched (and exceeded!) in order to purchase practical goodies such as toiletries and school stationery, as well as fun treats like clothes and toys - plus a gift they could then pass on. Under this year’s theme of Share the Love, donors had the option to duplicate an item in their box, enabling the beneficiary child to gift that item to a friend or family member. This helps to empower the child while teaching them "The Joy of Giving" - the mantra of this inspiring Project. All too often, these children are recipients of hand-me-downs and second-hand items that no one else wants - which is exactly the opposite of their ethos: "An underprivileged child has the same potential, the same value and the same full, layered life that a child of privilege does, they simply aren't given the same opportunities. Share the Love is about empowering that child".

After purchasing all the contents for our allocated group of children, ranging in age from 3 to 13 years, the team had the pleasure of packing and decorating the boxes! As we grappled with wrapping paper and lots of tape, we thoroughly enjoyed spreading some holiday cheer with everyone in the office, in part through the promise of the happiness our bright and colourful boxes would hopefully bring to the children.





Night Run to Honour Nurses

3 September 2022

For the DPRU's Q3 CSR activity, we supported the Night Run for Nurses taking place on Sat, 3 September 2022. The 7km length of the course is symbolic of the 7-7 shifts worked by nurses, and this family-friendly fun run was open to everyone: both walkers and runners are welcome to participate. There was also an urgent need for volunteers to assist with registration of participants on the day: Thank you to the enthusiastic DPRU staff who joined us in support of this worthy cause!

DPRU Blankets for Madiba Day

18 July 2022

This year's Mandela Day celebration saw a small group of staff meet in the DPRU office to admire the two finished blankets ready for donation: 1 adult-sized in shades of blue, and another child-sized in reds, yellows and browns. A couple of keen crocheters have also been making preemie-baby beanies, that we look forward to donating to the Bothasig Maternity Clinic. Well done team!



DPRU Blankets for Madiba Day

August 2021 to date

The team have been busy in 2021 working on two new blankets: one in autumnal themed colours (yellows, reds and browns), as well as a pink, grey and mauve blanket that should be ready for donation soon. As Rob confirms, “It is wonderful to know that the work we have put into making these blankets is bearing fruit, and we hope that we will be able to continue to support this initiative long into the future!”

DPRU Blankets for Madiba Day

2021 Update

67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day Cape Town Ambassador, Sandi King, recently confirmed that the DPRU blankets were successfully delivered in mid-September. "We've had a busy season distributing blankets in and around Cape Town, and today we met Pastor Pindele at a community centre in Mfuleni" she said. "He keeps a look out for the elderly folk in the neighborhood and invited a few of them to receive blankets from us. Your two blankets were well received by virtue of their large size and beautiful colours." Such good news!

DPRU Blankets for Madiba Day

August 2020 - July 2021

In 2020 the team created two large, adult-sized blankets in the DPRU’s beautiful brand-colour blues and greens. Sandi King, Ambassador for 67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day in Cape Town, kindly acknowledged the donation saying: “Thank you for the two beautiful blankets… They are exquisitely made and will soon be keeping someone less fortunate than ourselves warm… Please know that we are honoured that the Development Policy Research Unit chose us to distribute your “goodwool”!” Well done team!

DPRU Blankets for Madiba Day

March - July 2020

Spearheaded by researcher Rob Hill, staff enthusiastically crocheted and knitted DPRU-themed blankets, to donate to the 67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day campaign. Taking advantage of a slot in the weekly DPRU seminar series in early March, Rob taught the team how to crochet a square, using yarn, hooks and needles donated by the Unit. This was a fun, team-building activity (this British Journal of Occupational Therapy paper shows that knitting - and since it amounts to much the same thing, crocheting - often, is positively related to feeling calmer and happier on average) that will also help people less fortunate than ourselves, keeping them warmer in winters to come, in the name of fomer president Nelson Mandela.

National Woman's Day

August 2018

The DPRU celebrated National Woman's Day on the 7th August by doing a variety of outreach activities at Carehaven Shelter, in Bridgetown, Cape Town. Carehaven's mission is to provide residential shelter and refuge to abused women and their children. They also focus on creating opportunities for the women to find healing, and to learn skills that will empower them to cope as self-reliant members of society. DPRU staff donated clothes, furniture, linen and food, as well as toiletries including soaps, facecloths and feminine hygiene products, to help the women who are sheltered there. They also donated playdough, colouring books and crayons for the children attending the on-site crèche. Two main activities on the day included re-painting one of the meeting/therapy rooms to make it a more inviting and attractive space, and preparing a simple lunch for the women, children and staff at the shelter.

Mandela Day - Baitul Ansaar Child Care Centre

July 2017

DPRU commemorated Nelson Mandela International Day, by visiting Baitul Ansaar Child Care Centre (BACCC) in Beacon Valley, Mitchell’s Plain on Tuesday, 18th July 2017. BACCC is a non-profit organisation that provides a temporary safe care facility to about 42 children that have been abused, abandoned or neglected. The centre provides a safe and stable environment for the children and gives them the educational, social, physical, emotional and the psychological development they need to succeed. There are 20 full-time staff that work together to ensure that the children are cared for in the best possible way. For more information on how you can contribute please visit their website -

“Keep A Girl in School” Initiative

May 2017

DPRU staff assisted in packing about 1000 parcels of feminine sanitary products on Wednesday, 31st May 2017. The event was organised by the Commerce Transformation Committee. The packages were delivered to a girls school in Khayelitsha.

Mandela Day - Etafeni Day Care Centre

July 2016

DPRU commemorated Nelson Mandela International Day, by visiting Etafeni Day Care Centre Trust ( Etafeni is a multi-purpose centre that provides a model of holistic sustainable community-based care for AIDS-affected and vulnerable children and their caregivers based in Nyanga, Cape Town. ‪The team gave their time, energy and enthusiasm in the spirit of “Time to Serve”, with the Unit also donating non-perishables and toiletries for food parcels, that are given to the community’s most vulnerable families as well as cleaning materials and paint for the centre. After an introduction to the various programmes at the Centre such as Fit for Life, Fit for Work; Women’s Wellness and Skills Development; and Families Matter, the team split into three working groups for cleaning, painting offices and kitchen duty in preparing vegetables for the pre-school children’s meals.

Stop Hunger Now

May 2016

This was a wonderful opportunity for us to participate in a Commerce Faculty event in celebration of Africa Day this month. We managed to pack over 8000 meals. For more information on how to contribute towards alleviating hunger in Southern Africa visit 

CANSA Relay for Life

March 2016

The DPRU sponsored team T-shirts for the 2016 CANSA Relay For Life, in Athlone, Cape Town, on Friday 18th March. DPRU Administrative Assistant Ms Waseema Petersen participated with “Team Saturn", and co-ordinated their fundraising efforts. An international movement, the annual community-based relay is held overnight, for 12 hours, and includes a Luminaria ceremony and a survivor’s lap of honour.