Community Tapestry

Do you fully understand the communities in which you operate?


Need to plan at a community level but can’t find data disaggregated at a sub-ward level?


Looking for a township typology that lets you see subtle socio-economic differences by neighbourhood?


Want to target your next project in places with good infrastructure and high incomes? Or places with the greatest need?


Have you analysed your beneficiary, operations and performance data to see if your impact is different in different community types?

Strategic Partnerships

The Social Surveys Community Tapestry© is a rigorous, statistically derived typology that clusters all communities in South Africa based on three dimensions: Infrastructure, Socio-Economic Standing & Inequality.


Social Surveys Africa’s Community Tapestry enabled three major national representative studies for which there had previously been no reliable sampling frame. These studies for the first time measured the size and scope of the non-profit sector, the prevalence of farm worker evictions and reasons for school drop-out in South Africa. Bev Russell, CEO of Social Surveys Africa, won the prestigious Southern African Industry Award for the best contribution to research standards in Africa for her development of the Community Tapestry methodology.

What does the Community Tapestry allow you to do?

Know what kind: Rigorous typology of communities across South Africa.


Know where: Spatial frame for analyzing datasets for contextual relevance and impact.


Know why: Context information for interpreting market, beneficiary and performance data and for planning new activities.


Know what to do: Framework for developing generalizable but context-specific strategies and programmes.

Who can use the Community Tapestry?

Municipal and IDP Planners to identify high and low risk areas when planning resource allocations and unrest-prevention activities.


Councillors and Community Leaders to understand the nature and needs of their communities.


CBOs, NGOs and community organisations to understand the nature of needs of communities; compare and coordinate with similar communities; communicate effectively with local government, funders and other stakeholders.


Programme Managers of all kinds (government, NGO, corporate) when planning where to locate projects.


Investors and Entrepreneurs to segment township, peri-urban and rural areas.


Researchers to design a sampling and interpretation frame for difficult-to-sample populations.

How can I access this?

Social Surveys Africa offers bespoke mapping and area description reports and a range of strategic advisory and research advisory services to ensure your operations and planned activities are contextually informed. For more information, contact or call 011 486 1025.


Rethinking rural development planning

Bev Russell, Social Surveys CEO, presented a paper at the 9th Rural Development Policy Conference (24-25 May 2018, Durban, South Africa) entitled “Rethinking rural development...

Read More

Get in touch with us

Fill out the form below, and we will be in touch shortly.