Photo of Tsitsi Mpofu-Mketwa

Tsitsi Mpofu-Mketwa

Assistant Professor

Degrees:BSoc Sci (Hons), MSoc Sci, PhD (Cape Town).
Office:622 Dunton Tower


I have worked for 12 years as a social development practitioner in the fields of child protection social work, youth wellbeing, women’s empowerment, poverty alleviation, and community development in Cape Town. I conducted research in the Cape Flats vulnerable communities of Cape Town in projects that sought to explore violence prevention amongst young people in selected Cape Town township schools, the wellbeing of young people in Cape Town’s most deprived communities and gendered sustainable energy use in the informal food sector in Cape Town vulnerable communities. I worked on a research project that aimed to address higher education equity access in selected high-risk courses that impeded graduation for most deprived students, at the University of Cape Town. I apply participatory visual methods to enhance community engagement with multiple stakeholders to facilitate dialogue and address structural and systemic constraints that impede sustainable livelihoods and wellbeing outcomes.

Teaching and Research Interests

My research interests stem from applied community engaged research that draw on human development paradigms to build capacities of marginalised, vulnerable and most deprived communities in response to systemic, structural and environmental constraints. I am particularly interested in promoting sustainable livelihoods in poverty contexts, understanding how resilience, individual and collective agency contributes to development, transformation and poverty alleviation. I drew on my social development background and research interests to teach sociology introductory courses and courses that address poverty, development, globalisation, HIV/ AIDS policy and politics, community development, rural and urban development in Southern Africa.

Past Research Projects

Project Title: UKRI GCRF Water and Fire Project: Enhancing capacity and reducing risk through 15 ‘Best Bets’ for transformative adaptation with vulnerable residents on the Cape Flats.

Project Link:


Funding Organisation: UK Research and Innovation Global Challenges Research Fund (project number 100671)

An interdisciplinary research project that included the University of Stirling, University of Cape Town, Western Cape University, Sustainable Livelihoods Foundation and Cape Flats residents. The  project aimed to co-mobilise existing local knowledges and practices to generate the best bets for addressing disaster risk challenges of three environmental hazards, drought-related water shortages, frequent flooding and large-scale recurrent fire outbreaks in three vulnerable communities of the Cape Flats.

 Project Title:  Asihlali Phantsi! (We do not retire and submit to poverty)- A study of agency among isiXhosa-speaking women traders in a Cape Town Township.

Project Lead: Doctoral study supervised by Dr Jacques de Wet.

Timeline: 2013-2019

Funding organisations: Next Generations Social Sciences in Africa, Social Science Research Council/ Mellon Mays Undergraduate Funding Predoctoral and Travel Research Grants, Margaret McNamara Memorial Fund.

A PhD research project that sought to understand how agency contributes to poverty alleviation and human development. The study investigated how isiXhosa-speaking women traders in Langa Township, Cape Town, exercised agency in responding to structural constraints and opportunities that affected their informal trading businesses.


Undergraduate Courses

Fall: SOWK 2203          Introduction to Social Work Practice with Groups and Communities

Winter: SOWK 3206      Community Development and Social Change in an International Context

Graduate Courses

Fall: SOWK 5608: Social Work with Communities


Mpofu-Mketwa, T.J, Abrams, A & Black, G.F. 2023. “Reflections on measuring the soundness of the digital storytelling method applied to three Cape Flats vulnerable communities affected by drought, fire and flooding in Cape Town”. Social Sciences Humanities Open.7 (2023) 100407.

Shay, S., Collier-Reed, B., Hendry, J., Marquard, S.,Kefale, K., Prince, R., Steyn, S., Mpofu-Mketwa, T. and Carstens, R.2020. From Gatekeepers to Gateways: Courses Impeding Graduation Annual Report 2019. Cape Town: University of Cape Town.

De Lannoy, A, Fortuin, A, Mpofu-Mketwa, T, Mudiriza, G, Ngcowa, S, Storme, E and Smith, C (2018) Unpacking the Lived Realities of Western Cape Youth. Exploring the well-being of young people residing in five of the most deprived areas in the Western Cape Province. Cape Town: Department of the Premier: Western Cape Government, and Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town. Available on:

Moult, K., Meer, T, Corral, C & Mpofu-Mketwa, T. (2014). Tools for Talking Taboos: Classroom Exercises on Sex, Gender and Violence- http: Town: GHJRU, University of Cape Town.

 Scholarly Work in Progress

Ncube, S, Wilson, A, Black, G. F, Petersen, L, Abrams, A, Carden, K,  Dick, L, Dickie, J,  Gibson, L, Hamiliton -Smith, N, Ireland, A,  Lamb, G,  MpofuMketwa, T. J, Piper, L and Swanson, D, ‘It Means We are Not Safe’: Understanding and Learning from Household Experiences of Water Scarcity, Flood and Fire in Marginalized Settlements in the Cape Flats, South Africa. Available on SSRN: or

Mpofu-Mketwa, T.J & De Wet, J.P.  [in press]. Giddens, Sen and IsiXhosa-speaking Women Traders: Theoretical Grafting to Enhance Analysis. South African Review of Sociology.

Mpofu-Mketwa, T.J & Abrams A.L. [in press]. Ubuntu translanguaging: Valuing local languages in community engaged digital storytelling with isiXhosa-speaking Cape Flats residents to address environmental disaster risks. Canadian Journal of African Studies.