On the 28th and 29 April 2016, a sub-regional Symposium took place in Dakar on how to address urban violence and reduce crime in West Africa. The Symposium on Local strategies to fight violence and crime for inclusive urban governance in the region was an opportunity for urban violence experts and local authorities to exchange knowledge and discuss strategies for preventing and responding to violence and crime in the region’s urban centres.
Given the big challenge of rapid urbanization in African cities and all its consequences, cities ought to be safe and inclusive to ensure prosperity and development. In this regard, the symposium displayed the results of the research project “Safe and Inclusive Cities” based in Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Ghana. This research is a joint initiative of the International Development Research Center (IDRC) and the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) that documents the links between urban violence, poverty, and inequalities.
Discussions among participants to this symposium highlighted the importance of understanding the requirements of the local level in order to have safe cities. To face urban violence, stakeholders should adopt holistic approaches in order to achieve long-lasting solutions to this escalating problem. Marginalization and violent responses to urban crimes can only lead to more violence according to the symposium panels.
Concerning the results of the “Safe and Inclusive Cities” research, they showed that in Ivory Coast, poverty and rural land issues fuel urban violence among marginalized youth and that in the Democratic Republic of Congo, also poverty and population growth contribute to youth violence including children as young as 10 years old.
As the results of this important research unfold, experts are exploring links between different factors in order to have a holistic view of the different environments where urban violence occurs.
More on the findings of the “Safe and Inclusive Cities” project in Sub-Saharan Africa can be accessed here.
This symposium was jointly hosted by IDRC, the City of Dakar, Senegal, the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT), and Initiative Prospective Agricole et Rurale.
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