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Evidence to reduce urban violence over the next 20 years

October 5, 2016
The Favela de Prazeres
FLICKR / Dany13

What works — and what doesn’t — to prevent violence in urban centres? To answer this question the Safe and Inclusive Cities Initiative has been documenting the links between urban violence, poverty, and inequalities over the past four years. Jointly funded by IDRC and the UK’s Department for International Development, this global research program spans 16 countries and more than 40 cities across Latin America, South Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa.

Fifteen research teams have tested the effectiveness of urban violence reduction theories, strategies, and interventions, in addition to researching key knowledge gaps. They are now proposing comprehensive recommendations to policymakers and practitioners in the field.

IDRC has been sharing this evidence-based research internationally, including at the Habitat III conference in Quito, Ecuador, to help turn the New Urban Agenda into reality.

The impact stories on this page explain how:

  • A state-community work program targeting poverty is contributing to safety in participating South African cities.
  • Lack of access to basic public services in Karachi and Rawalpindi-Islamabad, Pakistan, is fueling violence against women inside and outside the home.
  • In Rio de Janeiro and Cape Town, community bonds can either lead to civic cooperation with authorities, or gangs and vigilantism.
  • Institutions can provoke, sustain, or reduce violence depending on their approach to poverty and inequality in Caracas, Venezuela.
  • Urban land disputes and a breakdown of family and community ties are pushing children into criminalized youth gangs in Côte d’Ivoire.

Global research results from the Safe and Inclusive Cities initiative gather unique evidence from different cities under study. Overall, they illustrate how social exclusion, poor economic opportunities, restrictive gender roles, and lack of access to basic services are some of the main factors driving violence in many of the world’s urban centres. These findings are already having an impact on policymakers, practitioners, and researchers in the field of urban safety.

Read an overview of some of the key findings emerging from this initiative.

Impact stories: Safe and Inclusive Cities

Protest to stop the violence in South Africa

Community Work Programme reduces poverty and violence

South Africa’s Community Work Programme aims to reduce poverty, but researchers have found that it also has the unexpected effect of reducing violence.
A police officer controlling a crowd

Social cohesion: solution or driver of urban violence?

Social cohesion can play an important role in building and maintaining vibrant communities.
A bus carrying many individuals in Pakistan

Gender, vulnerability, and violence in urban Pakistan

Pakistan has undergone tremendous shifts in the last half century, and while traditional gender roles are rigid, youth are exposed to new ideas through technology and urbanization.
A person holding bullets

Stemming youth violence in Côte d’Ivoire

Côte d’Ivoire’s youth have emerged as victims and perpetrators of violent crime, and points to the measures that can offer them a brighter future.
People protesting in the streets

Restoring institutions for safe and inclusive cities

Poverty and income inequality are often cited as drivers of violent crime. Despite advances in income equality, violent crime has flourished in urban Venezuela.