Rory Liedeman

Rory Liedeman

Title: SLF Board Member, Senior Researcher and Team leader on Citizen Action and Community Engagement
Hometown: Cape Town, South Africa
Qualification: MA (UWC – cum laude); B.Soc.Sc (Hons – UCT)
Email address:

Rory is an informal economy, citizen action and development specialist and senior researcher at the Sustainable Livelihoods Foundation (currently living and working in Cape Town, South Africa). He was born and raised in Cape Town and hold an Honours degree in Social Anthropology and a Master’s in Political Studies (cum laude). Over the past seven years his key research interest has been in exploring the South African informal township economy, and in particular, the small grocery retail sector commonly known as spaza shops. Rory’s passion for engaging poor and marginalised communities first started when he worked as a grey water research consultant for the University of Cape Town’s Civil Engineering Department in 2008.

Between 2014 and 2015, while working at SLF, he continued this passion for working with ordinary South Africans when he helped to revive SLF’s citizen action research pillar through his role as project manager of the SLF iSafety project. This project worked with citizens living in marginalised areas to monitor and document crime and violence on the Cape Flats. In 2016 Rory took this work further and continued to work closely with communities in Delft (Cape Town) as project manager and senior facilitator of the SLF Participatory, Monitoring and Accountability (PMA) action research project. His current work, funded by the British Academy, and with the support of the Institute of Development Studies (UK), builds on the 2016 legacy of how to make citizen voices count in decisions making processes within the city and the community of Delft. Over the past two years, his work with the Delft Safety Group advocates for a more inclusive approach to be implemented around citizen based monitoring, especially with regards to the inequalities people in townships face around safety and policing services. Rory has been employed at SLF since it began in 2010. His current role includes membership on the SLF board, the oversight of various fieldwork projects, database management, community mobilisation and strategic engagement. He has also contributed to a number of recent and past SLF publications. In his spare time Rory enjoys spending quality time with his wife, son, daughter, dogs and braai grid.

For a more in-depth and comprehensive view of Rory’s publication history, please visit his Research Gate profile.


Liedeman R, and B Mackay. 2016. A Smokescreen Economy: The nature and scale of the township grey market cigarette trade in Delft.

Black G, Derakhshani N, Liedeman R, Wheeler J, and members of the Delft Safety Group. 2016. What we live with every day is not right: Partnerships for accountability and safer cities in South Africa.

Charman AJ, Petersen L, Piper L, Liedeman R and T Legg. 2015. Small Area Census Approach to Measure the Township Informal Economy in South Africa. Journal of Mixed Methods Research, 1558689815572024.

Hartnack A, and R Liedeman. 2016. Factors That Contribute Towards Informal Microenterprises Going Out of Business in Delft South, 2010-2015: A Qualitative Investigation

Liedeman R. 2013. Understanding the Internal Dynamics and Organisation of Spaza Shop Operators: A Case Study of How Social Networks Enable Entrepreneurialism Amongst Somali But Not South African Traders in Delft South, Cape Town. University of The Western Cape.

Liedeman R, Charman A, Piper L and L Petersen. 2013. Why Are Foreign-Run Spaza Shops More Successful? The Rapidly Changing Spaza Sector in South Africa. Econ3x3.