UNDP wants to help Africa to better prevent and respond to violent extremism

Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria is killing the economy of the country’s north as several industries have shut down under attacks by the militant group. In Kenya, the important tourism industry is comatose due to terror attacks. Tunisia and Egypt have also suffered attacks in recent weeks. Violent extremism is impeding growth in Africa by discouraging long-term investment.

In a bid to support African countries to prevent and respond to the growth of violent extremism through a development lens, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Regional Bureau for Africa has launched an initiative

“We must confront the issues that drive many African youths away from productive lives and draw them to mayhem and destruction,” said Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, UNDP’s Africa Director at the high-level discussion and launch event of Preventing and Responding to Violent Extremism in Africa: A Development Approach, co-hosted by the Permanent Mission of Sweden to the UN. “The risk we face is not just dramatic reversal of the recent development gains in Africa but a stunting of development prospects for decades to come.”

The initiative which will run for four years aims to address the root causes and enabling factors of violent extremism, and proposes actions across countries directly affected by violent extremist acts, those suffering the spill over effects and those that could be at risk.

It also aims to work with private sector and other partners to provide young people skills training and livelihood opportunities, particularly in marginalised areas as research has shown that in the African context, socio-economic factors are helping to drive young people towards violent radicalisation.

The programme will work with regional and national institutions, including government, police and the criminal justice system; religious institutions; and communities to build trust, identify early warning signs of radicalisation and potential violent extremism, and design appropriate responses.

The Permanent Mission of Sweden to the UN, Ambassador Olof Skoog who co-hosted the event noted that there were no borders when it comes to violent extremism. Hence, “it is critical for countries to work together to prevent and respond to violent extremism”.

In order to ensure the most recent analysis and data are available for the formulation of regional and national policies and programmes, UNDP has launched a $100,000 annual grant to encourage universities and think tanks to pursue research and analysis in this area of work.