New Publication | Addressing the Overlooked Role of African Cities in Preventing & Countering Violent Extremism

New research conducted by the Strong Cities Network and funded by the European Union examines the effectiveness of existing approaches to P/CVE across Africa and provides practical recommendations to improve the role of local authorities.


Authors:

Eric Rosand
Executive Director

Isel van Zyl
Africa Programme Lead

Jon Jones
Coordinator

Charlotte Moeyens
Senior Manager


About the Report

This report maps the needs and priorities of cities and other local authorities in Africa for preventing and countering violent extremism. It explores where enhanced involvement of these local actors could help catalyse and sustain efforts towards locally led, whole-of-society approaches to violent extremism and related challenges. It also identifies steps to address these needs and priorities, including through the development of training and other capacity-building tools, and the involvement of existing multilateral bodies and platforms, including the Strong Cities Network.


Key Findings

1. The violent extremist threat landscape in Africa is increasingly complex and localised, fuelled by inter-communal tensions and conflicts, marginalisation, weak governance, and a lack of trust in government institutions.


2. Local authorities are well-positioned to recognise, understand and respond to hyper-local contexts that extremists exploit to recruit new members or gain support.


3. The most effective local responses to violent extremism are those situated within wider community safety efforts.


4. Towns and communities located in border areas are particularly vulnerable, but often overlooked by central governments in Africa in terms of logistic and financial support.


5. Local authorities want to leverage their P/CVE comparative advantages by being empowered and capacitated to develop and implement prevention policies and programmes themselves.


6. Overly centralised and securitised P/CVE efforts in Africa persist, and border towns and rural authorities are typically overlooked in prevention policy and programming.


7. National P/CVE frameworks rarely include perspectives of cities and local authorities, and fail to delineate a role or provide a mandate for local governments – resulting in plans a based on assumption rather than local realities.


8. Missing or limited national-local cooperation (NLC) stands in the way of more city-level involvement in P/CVE in Africa, where national and local authorities do not adequately share the same understanding of the threat nor their roles.


9. Local governments need training and other capacity-building support to tap into their P/CVE potential including how to leverage existing resources and infrastructure, being given additional local resources, and given more opportunities.


10. Many multilateral P/CVE actors are engaged in Africa but there is limited coordination and coherence between them, leading to the duplication of efforts, nor do they often engage local authorities, meaning confusion in the role of local authorities in P/CVE.

Download the Report

Summary of Recommendations

1. Better Responses: Integration, Inclusion and Learning

  • Promote integrated local responses – leveraging existing local resources where possible – to an interconnected localised threat.
  • Prioritise inclusive and consultative prevention frameworks.
  • Create more opportunities for sharing and learning among local authorities across the continent.

2. Building Locally: Identity, Capacity and Trust

  • Promote and communicate an inclusive local identity
  • Ensure local governments have the necessary mandate, capacities, expertise and resources to fully tap into their potential for prevention
  • Build trust between local governments and the communities they serve

3. Better Cooperation At All Levels

  • Engage national governments proactively.
  • Address the structural challenges and other barriers that are impeding national-local cooperation.
  • Address the disconnect between multilateral P/CVE policymaking and programming and local application.

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