- Communities and Public Spaces
Communities and Public Spaces
Despite the extent of violence in cities and among youth, there is surprisingly little policy work or research on associated strategies for violence prevention and reduction. Indeed, 'community-level violence prevention' is often described in general terms. The focus tends to be on inequality de-concentration, targeting at-risk youth with vocational programmes, or temporary restrictions on alcohol and firearms. And while these may be effective, there is comparatively limited guidance on prioritising or sequencing interventions and targeting those most at risk. What is more, guidelines seldom specify how the impact of these strategies would vary in different conditions, or how these may be aligned with other prevention programmes offered within a community setting. The evidence on what works in fragile low and medium income urban settings, where the incidence of community-level violence is likely to be higher, is sparse.
Through a series of commissioned papers and regional meetings, the third Learning Group will prepare structured reviews of current evidence on community-level risk factors and prevention strategies from around the world, and discuss challenges to programme implementation, adaptation and sustainability, particularly in violent, fragile cities. It will have two primary aims and related questions: (1) to determine the drivers of violence in fragile low and medium income urban settings; and (2) to review evidence-based prevention strategies that are feasible in fragile low- and medium-income urban settings and comprehensive prevention models. Read More...
How will the work of Learning Group 3 build on the current state of the field?
A number of recent global reports have synthesised what we know about violence in childhood. These reports have been extremely important in drawing attention to the problem globally; however, they typically suggest broad areas of risk and prevention without offering specific guidelines for programmes and policies. At the community level, most of these reports emphasise general investments such as reducing poverty and inequality while addressing the gendered dimension of violence prevention or providing enhanced community services for families, without detailed guidelines that specify mechanisms of impact or provide direction for targeted interventions under different conditions, particularly the more extreme conditions that characterise high-burden and fragile cities.
There also are many individual research studies and programme evaluations examining the impact of specific programmes on preventing youth violence, gang violence, and street violence. Although there is a growing database beyond western, higher-income countries, it still is the case that most programmes have been evaluated in higher-income countries – and may not be feasible, acceptable, or sustainable in more distressed settings, conflict-affected countries, high burden and fragile cities, or across different cultures or contexts. In addition, there has not been a systematic effort worldwide to synthesise findings from relevant studies. Very little work has focussed on identifying the core elements of effective community interventions that can facilitate implementation under varied and less advantaged conditions; how programmes should be integrated to build an effective violence prevention system at the community level; and which sectors should take the lead. Decision-makers in high burden contexts would benefit from guidelines to help them better allocate resources, order their interventions and anticipate disruptive factors.
Learning Group 3 comprises an interdisciplinary team of scholars and practitioners from around the world with relevant research and practice expertise in community-level violence prevention in urban settings, who will attempt to fill these gaps. These scholars aim to provide a careful understanding of risk factors, causal mechanisms and evidence-based strategies that shape violence in childhood in fragile cities. To do so, they will explore what are/are not fragile cities/urban settings, what are the key community-level drivers/risks, and how are these drivers/risks linked to various types of violence and underlying causal mechanisms in urban contexts.
In addition, these scholars will undertake reviews that will highlight core elements, mechanisms of change, and moderators of impact, and indicate how these can be integrated into a comprehensive violence prevention system. Here the focus will be on examining "community-level" prevention strategies as well as prevention programmes (universal, selected, and indicated) delivered in community settings, to bring a greater understanding about "what works" and "what should work." Specifically, the following key questions will be explored: (i) what kinds of strategies, programmes and projects are underway addressing community risks of violence against and by children in fragile low-/medium-income urban settings or relevant for implementation in these settings; (ii) what are their implementation requirements; (iii) what is the evidence of success/impact of these intervention strategies by themselves and as part of a comprehensive effort, and (iv) what regional/national/subnational dynamics affect planning, readiness, implementation, impact and sustainability of these interventions.
In sum, the effort of the Learning Group will be to address how to prioritise programmes and develop integrated service delivery models that leverage multi-sector programming, particularly under conditions of resource scarcity. The Learning Group will also commission a complementary set of research case studies of initiatives in LMICs that illustrate effective leadership and demonstrated successes. Although the focus of the Learning Group will be global, it will highlight challenges and solutions in the Latin America/Caribbean region, where youth and gang violence are major concerns, and the problem of fragile cities is growing.
The following 13 papers will be produced under the Learning Group reflecting on the aforementioned aims:
- Executive Summary. (Lead authors: Nancy Guerra, University of Delaware; Alys Wilman, The World Bank; Robert Muggah, Igarapé Institute; and Thomas Abt, Harvard University);
- Violence prevention in high-burden and fragile cities (Lead author: Robert Muggah, Igarapé Institute);
- Assessing "readiness" and "needs" to prioritise and implement community-level youth violence prevention in fragile cities: Findings from a multi-country study (Lead authors: Nancy Guerra, University of Delaware; and Rodrigo Serrano, the Inter-American Development Bank);
- How can we best understand the role of gangs in serious youth violence and what special considerations should be in place when preventing gang violence? (Lead author: Jose Miguel Cruz,Florida International University);
- Gender dimensions of violent urban contexts (Lead authors: Valeria Esquivel and Andrea Kaufmann, UNRISD);
- Towards a comprehensive model for preventing violence in childhood in fragile cities (Lead author: Thomas Abt, Harvard Univeristy);
- Urban renewal and environmental design to make fragile cities safer for children;
- Access to alcohol, drugs, and firearms and implications for children in fragile cities (Lead author: Andres Villaveces, University of North Carolina);
- Civil society, organised criminal activity, and the rule of law in fragile cities (Lead author: Juan Garzon Vergara, Woodrow Wilson Center);
- Municipal level strategies for preventing violence in childhood in fragile cities: Successes and challenges (Lead authors: Flavia Carbonari and Alys Wilman, World Bank);
- People as agents of change to prevent violence against children in fragile cities (Lead author: Cathy Mcilwaine, Queen Mary, University of London);
- A public health approach to preventing violence among high-risk individuals (Lead author: Gary Slutkin, Cure Violence, University of Illinois at Chicago); and
- Community-based interventions using everyday activities to engage high-risk youth: A systematic review of extra-curricular programmes in lower and middle-income countries (Lead Author: Alejandro Cid, Center for Research in Applied Economics, University of Montevideo).