By Staff Writer
WASHINGTON, D.C. – A new research paper estimates that more than half of all Africans will live in cities by 2025. The latest research paper from the Africa Center for Strategic Studies —Urban Fragility and Security in Africa– by Dr. Stephen Commins, a lecturer in the Department of Urban Planning at the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Public Affairs, says that this rapid pace of urbanization is creating a new locus of fragility in many African states – as evidenced by the burgeoning slums around many of the continent’s urban areas – and the accompanying rise in violence, organized crime, and the potential for instability.
These evolving threats, in turn, have profound implications for Africa’s security sector. The paper finds that the drivers of violence associated with urban fragility are primarily related to weak and illegitimate governance, inequitable development, limited livelihood opportunities, and legal structures that inhibit land tenure and new business start-ups.
Urban fragility is a form of state fragility—a context of deteriorating governance and prolonged political crisis or conflict—with a locus in urban areas. Fragile governments lack either the will or capacity to deliver basic services to and provide security for their citizens. Grievances around this lack of essential services, coupled with increased insecurity, crime, and lawlessness, contribute to greater levels of urban violence.
The security ramifications of urban poverty are of growing importance since, by 2025, the majority of the poor in Africa will live in urban as opposed to rural areas—reversing a longstanding pattern. In many countries, moreover, the poorest 20 percent in urban slums have worse human development indicators than the poorest 20 percent in rural areas.2
Among the conclusions are that solutions to Africa’s urban fragility cannot be addressed solely through security structures but must be part of a broader development strategy.
Published in Exclusive Partnership with Newsfromafrica.org