The deep dive into the daily experience of urban violence has generated evidence of the heavy burden of physical and sexual abuse borne by women; children’s very early exposure to violence; and restrictive gender roles that trap both men and women. The research also reveals how lack of planning, corruption, and state neglect exacerbate existing insecurities and tensions in impoverished urban communities.
The 15 research teams under the Safe and Inclusive Cities Program (SAIC) also examined approaches to prevent violence in urban centres. Funded by IDRC and the UK’s Department for International Development, SAIC researchers have been working in more than 40 cities across Latin America, South Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa to test the effectiveness of urban violence reduction theories, strategies, and interventions. Now they are bursting with ideas, as are other researchers, practitioners, and policymakers in this area of work.
The Safe and Inclusive Cities Exchange will bring SAIC research teams and diverse stakeholders together in Nairobi from May 29 to 31, 2017 to share insights and knowledge on the drivers of urban violence. They will also discuss strategies to promote social cohesion and capital, urban renewal and regeneration, and the protection of the most vulnerable groups. The conference, organized with IDRC by the African Leadership Centre, will offer many opportunities for online participation, including webcasts.
IDRC is running a campaign on Facebook and Twitter to highlight the many solutions generated by SAIC research and other efforts to address urban violence. So far suggestions such as controlling urban sprawl, building local capacity, and gender-inclusive planning have emerged under the My #safecities solution campaign.
“Listen to the people; they have the solution,” wrote Thabitha Khumalo, a member of Parliament in Zimbabwe. Khumalo was involved in SAIC research in the cities of Harare, Bulawayo, and Kadoma to document how current laws, policies, and practices fail to take into account — and can even reinforce —violence, poverty, and inequality for women living in Zimbabwe’s cities.
Karla Salazar’s solution for safer cities is “coordinating state and community efforts.” A researcher with the Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales in Costa Rica, Salazar is part of a team that explored community-based strategies to confront and cope with various manifestations of violence in Costa Rica and El Salvador.