The Community Work Programme (CWP) is a South African government programme that provides an employment safety net and basic minimum income for people living in marginalized areas where, very often, access to employment opportunities is limited. The CWP was initiated in order to counter high unemployment and poverty levels in South Africa and is designed to contribute to the strategic goals of government in addressing poverty and unemployment. The CWP falls under the category of public work programmes in South Africa. The purpose of public works programmes is generally to provide access to temporary jobs and income for the unemployed.
The vehicle for driving the public works program policy in South Africa is the Expanded Public Works
Programme (EPWP) which falls under the Department of Public Works. In its first phase, the EPWP focused on infrastructure development and the provision of public works. The CWP was introduced in the second phase of the EPWP, and in 2009 this was expanded to include the social sector, with a focus on useful work. Both are seen as important social protection mechanisms (NDP 2011) responding to the structural unemployment resulting from South Africa’s colonial and apartheid history.