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ESA Regional Hub: Tapping into the Potential of Cities in Preventing and Responding to Hate- and Extremist-Motivated Violence in East and Southern Africa

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From 1-2 June 2023, the Strong Cities Network’s East and Southern Africa (ESA) Regional Hub convened 70 local government and other stakeholders from across ESA in Johannesburg, South Africa, to discuss the role of cities in preventing and responding to hate- and extremist-motivated violence. The workshop was co-hosted by the South African Local Government Association (SALGA), and financed by the European Union (EU) under the auspices of STRIVE Cities. It brought together senior city officials – including 15 mayors – from 26 local governments from 11 countries across the region, as well as national government officials from Malawi and Kenya, a shadow minister from Uganda, representatives from local government associations, UN-Habitat, UNDP and other stakeholders. The workshop invited participants to discuss the most pressing and emerging hate- and extremist-related threats in their cities, the role that mayors and local authorities can play in addressing these challenges, as well as the needs and priorities of local governments in order to strengthen this role.

Three key themes emerged out of these discussions:

  1. Intentional City-Led Prevention: from innovative youth engagement practices to inspiring local leadership, cities across ESA are already playing a vital role in preventing hate and extremism. Mayors in particular should continue to drive local prevention efforts through proactively engaging with residents, practitioners and other stakeholders to identify local needs and mobilise resources to address these before they escalate to violence.
  2. City Needs: capacity-building, peer-to-peer learning and city-to-city collaboration are key to enhancing and sustaining the role of local governments in preventing and responding to these challenges. Strong Cities Network and other city-focused initiatives should therefore provide regular opportunities for cities across the region (and within specific countries) to come together for experience and learning exchange.
  3. National-Local Cooperation (NLC): overall, there remains a disconnect between national and local perceptions of the threat landscape, and very limited NLC on the prevention of hate, extremism and polarisation. This is particularly so in more remote parts of the country and in municipalities led by the political opposition. To address this disparity and enhance NLC overall, cities need to be given regular opportunities to engage their national government on local threats and needs for response. In the absence of national governments doing this proactively, third party organisations like Strong Cities Network should partner with local government associations to host national-local dialogues on city-led prevention.


Event Report