Jennifer Erin Salahub a senior Program Officer for Safe and Inclusive Cities at Canada’s International Development Research Centre, in this article, explains the importance of understanding the root causes of violence in developing countries.
This article is based on a 2012 baseline study commissioned by Canada’s IDRC.
What do we really know about the root causes of urban violence?
Not a lot, actually, particularly in cities of the developing world and particularly in terms of how poverty and inequalities contribute to violence in urban centres.This is the main message behind a 2012 baseline study – Researching the Urban Dilemma – commissioned by Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC). Based on the study’s findings, IDRC, together with the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), is supporting a CA$11 million initiative to explore the drivers of urban violence, how they relate to poverty and inequalities, and to identify what works – and what doesn’t – to reduce and prevent violence in cities. The Safe and Inclusive Cities (SAIC) initiative is funding 15 international research teams in three regions – Latin America, South Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa, including four projects in South Africa.
Why invest in research on urban violence in developing countries?
The two funding partners also want to make sure that new research on these topics takes local developing-country contexts into account. One of the key findings of the SAIC baseline study was that most of the international conversation, and indeed many interventions in developing countries, are based on experiences and theories developed in cities of the United States and Western Europe, contexts vastly different than in Rio de Janeiro, Cape Town, or Mumbai. SAIC seeks to expand knowledge and expertise on urban violence, poverty, and inequalities in developing countries and support a network of researchers based in the global South who will develop both theories and practical solutions to the real-life challenges their cities face.
Where is the program now and where is it going?
February 2015 marks the half-way point for most of the 15 research projects. In April 2015, researchers will gather in Cape Town to share emerging findings, learn from each other, and make plans for the last two years of the program. Some early reports and findings are available on the SAIC website: www.idrc.ca/cities. By early 2016, all the research projects will be complete and the researchers will be reaching out to share their findings with policymakers and practitioners. Our goal is to put the results and evidence produced by SAIC to work in improving existing policies and interventions while developing new ones that are more relevant for the cities they come from and others around the world.
For more information about the 15 projects in Latin America, South Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa, including four projects in South Africa, please visit the SAIC website: www.idrc.ca/cities.
As part of the April workshop in Cape Town, a public event is being planned for the late afternoon of Thursday, April 23. For more information, please contact Jennifer Salahub, (email@example.com).