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Strategic review of the Safer Cities Programme of UN HABITAT

The Safer Cities Programme of UN-HABITAT has promoted an urban crime prevention approach in developing countries, through city projects and normative global work. Safer Cities has promoted its crime prevention approach through networking, advocacy, knowledge-dissemination and policy development at the global level. Up to end 2004, these global activities were carried out under a global project “Safer Cities for Better Governance”, valued at US$ 1,251,000 over a period of 4 years, funded by the Netherlands Government.

Additional ’global’ level resources were mobilised during the same period to reinforce the youth component of the Programme (this additional component was known as the Dutch Partnership Programme, or DPP) and to provide support staff (a Junior Project Officer from Sweden). Also, in addition to the normative global work, city-level projects were implemented in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and in the Asia-Pacific region, and technical assistance was provided to a number of other cities in those regions. Various bilateral resources were mobilised at country level to fund the city projects. The city-level Safer Cities projects are not the subject of this review, nor is the DPP-specific set of outputs. They are covered only insofar as they form part of the global programme; and because they illustrate some of the issues in the relationship between the global and the city-level projects.

The overall development objective of the Netherlands-funded global project was described as ”enhancing good urban governance at the city level through partnership-based urban security initiatives”. The project document described four main objectives:

  1. to strengthen the role of city authorities in addressing urban insecurity,
  2. to develop and disseminate innovative approaches to urban crime for criminal justice systems,
  3. to develop preventive strategies for youth at risk, and to enhance the role of youth in addressing urban social exclusion,
  4. to develop strategies to address violence against women in urban areas.

In order to achieve the above, the strategy of the project was twofold. On one hand, it aimed to promote and consolidate international networks on insecurity and urban violence. On the other hand, the project was also intended to contribute to the outputs of HABITAT’s Urban Governance Campaign.

Normative global activities of the project included

  • identifying key issues for urban crime prevention policy and
  • supporting prevention initiatives,
  • comparing weaknesses and strengths and extracting lessons learned,
  • disseminating and feeding lessons learned into the global urban development debate.

The Netherlands support of the programme came to an end at the end of 2004, and as part of the formulation of the new phase of the Safer Cities Programme, this review is intended to provide programme managers with lessons learned, as a basis for identifying an appropriate way forward.

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