Violence in the city: book launch and discussion

NOTE: This event has been canceled.

Understanding and Supporting Community Responses to Urban Violence
When: Thursday, February 10th, 2011 from 12pm-2pm
Where: MC 13-121
The World Bank

Chair:
Sarah Cliff, Director, World Development Report

Presenters:
Alexandre Marc : Cluster Leader, Conflict Crime and Violence Team, Social Development Department (SDV), World Bank
Alys Willman: Social Development Specialist, Conflict Crime and Violence Team, SDV, World Bank

Discussants:
Junaid Ahmad: Sector Manager, Africa – Urban & Water, World Bank
Rodrigo Serrano: Senior Social Development specialist, LAC, World Bank

For millions of people around the world, violence, or the fear of violence, is a daily reality. Much of this violence concentrates in urban centers in the developing world. Cities are now home to half the world’s population and expected to absorb almost all new population growth over the next 25 years. In many cases, the scale of urban violence can eclipse those of open warfare; some of the world’s highest homicide rates occur in countries that have not undergone a war, but that have serious epidemics of violence in urban areas. This study emerged out of a growing recognition that urban communities themselves are an integral part of understanding the causes and impacts of urban violence and of generating sustainable violence prevention initiatives.

The study used a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods to understand how urban residents experience and cope with high levels of violence every day, and to develop strategic orientations for how to better support existing initiatives. The study found a variety of coping mechanisms, most of which were individual-level strategies to avoid victimization such as staying at home more, changing routes to school or work, or simply “doing nothing.” Many strategies actually undermine long-term prevention, including strategies like joining a vigilante group or militia, or using other extra-legal forms of justice. Recommendations from the study focus on creating the basic conditions that urban communities need to be able to come together collectively to address violence, from upgrading basic infrastructure, to better harnessing the energies of youth and increasing coordination across levels and sectors of government and civil society.

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