Urban Violence in Sub-Saharan Africa: Its impacts, coping strategies and peace building (U-Care Programme) is a three year research programme funded by the Volkswagen Foundation. The University of Yaoundé I in Cameroon, the University of Nairobi in Kenya, the University of Witswaterand in South Africa and the Technical University of Darmstadt in Germany are the academic institutions represented in the research network.
After the start-up workshop of the programme which took place in Nairobi (Kenya) in May 2009, members of the U-Care programme are meeting from 21st to 26th September 2009 in Cameroon for a one week follow-up workshop to discuss and harmonize the methodological approach to urban violence and community based crime prevention.
The overall focus of the U-Care programme is to examine the integration of violence prevention in urban planning and governance strategies with examples from South Africa, Cameroon and Kenya. The latter half of the 20th century witnessed violence and crime rates soar in urban centres within many Sub-Saharan African countries. This does not only entail deep and serious impacts on the individuals' and the community's well-being, but also have negative results on the country's economic capacity. The project’s first academic goal is to explore and evaluate experiences and potentials of community based and Participatory Governance strategies of violence prevention in different urban settings.
Academic capacity building in Sub-Saharan subcontinent is a secondary goal in order to increase the sustainability of the research project. The close co-operation of different disciplines and professional experiences within the project will contribute to build a strong and interdisciplinary African expertise in the field of violence prevention. Particular emphasis will be directed towards fostering the academic qualification of young scholars who are completing their PhD and introducing them to the international scientific community. In addition, the initiative will build a strong interdisciplinary network capable to address the problems of rising violence in Sub-Saharan cities.
Methodologically, the research will be based on field studies conducted in Johannesburg (South Africa), Nairobi (Kenya) and Douala (Cameroon). A comparative analysis will be done through the joint team of researchers from these cities.
The scientific outcomes expected from this interdisciplinary research project include a better understanding of the complexity of perceived urban violence at the neighbourhood level in Sub-Saharan cities, and of its relationship with social formation and the physical environment. It is also expected to raise awareness about the ethical governance implications of bottom-up violence prevention strategies in terms of the promotion of inclusion and closeness within local communities. A practical output of the project will be to understand – and possibly recommend – how and where relationships between stakeholders should be developed at different scales (neighbourhood, districts, city...). The focus on participatory urban governance will also contribute to better analytical capacities regarding actor/stakeholder networks and strategies – especially how visions, methods and resources are pooled and channelled within a locally defined framework.
Research results will be disseminated worldwide through the UN-HABITAT Safer Cities Programme and made available in printed and digital form to the partners and the scientific community.