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Safe and Inclusive Cities:
New projects to propose strategies to reduce urban violence

Ottawa, Canada, September 11, 2013
– From South Africa’s townships to Rio de Janeiro’s favelas and the streets of Mumbai, urban violence has emerged as one of the central development challenges of our time. To meet these challenges, 15 new projects have been announced as part of Safe and Inclusive Cities, a CA$11 million initiative funded by Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID).  IDRC and DFID have joined forces with research partners around the world to document the links between urban violence, poverty, and inequalities, and to propose strategies to reduce violence in urban centres.

Leading security analysts in this field believe that future conflicts will be fought in cities that are unable to absorb fast-rising populations. Criminal and organized violence, associated with the drug trade in some countries, has become linked with national politics. In certain urban centres, gangs and militias have replaced public authorities, offering services and protection to communities. These services often come at great cost. Forms of social and domestic violence are also significant problems, particularly for the most vulnerable groups which include women, girls, and youth. An IDRC-commissioned background study showed that much is known about the direct impacts of urban violence on the poor. However, we are also starting to understand the indirect impacts and costs of violence, such as population displacement, the disruption of social services, reduced economic growth, brain drain, and higher spending on law enforcement.

The Safe and Inclusive Cities initiative is a five-year endeavour that will propose strategies and solutions to reduce violence in 40 cities across sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Research recipients will work to identify key knowledge gaps, test the effectiveness of urban violence reduction strategies, and examine what works and what doesn’t to reduce violence in urban centres.

“We actually understand very little about the links between violence, poverty, and inequality,” said John de Boer, Program Leader of the Governance, Security, and Justice team at IDRC. “The Safe and Inclusive Cities initiative will not only document the connections between urban violence, poverty and inequality; but also help us identify the most effective strategies for addressing these challenges.”

“The speed and scale of global urbanization are staggering and the implications for the fight against poverty are immense,” said Iain King, CBE, Senior Governance Advisor with the Research and Evidence Division at the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID).  “The international community needs a better understanding of the dynamics of urbanization, and a better understanding of effective strategies so that we might work towards better outcomes for the urban poor.”

More than 30 researchers involved in the Safe and Inclusive Cities initiative will gather at an inception workshop in Ottawa on September 10-13 to share knowledge and experiences on current research on urban violence.  While the workshop is closed to the public, researchers will be available to the media at a public panel discussion on September 13, 2013.

For more information, visit and see Backgrounder – IDRC and UK’s DFID join forces to make cities safer and more inclusive.

Journalists and the public can join the conversation through Twitter (#SafeCities) and Facebook.

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Putting research to work

Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) funds practical research in developing countries to increase prosperity and security, and to foster democracy and the rule of law, in support of Canada’s international development efforts. We promote growth and development and encourage sharing knowledge with policymakers, other researchers, and communities around the world. The result is innovative, lasting solutions that aim to bring change to those who need it most.


Isabelle Bourgeault-Tassé
(+1 613) 696-2343
Knowledge, innovation, and solutions to improve the lives of people in the developing world
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