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Assessing the Effectiveness of Alternative Community-Led Security Mechanisms in Urban Eastern Africa

Low-income, urban communities in East Africa must negotiate their security in the face of weak, unresponsive, or abusive state security forces. Researchers will examine how communities in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Rwanda are facing this challenge. While many believe the state has a monopoly on the legitimate use of force, realities on the ground challenge this assertion, particularly in conflict and violence contexts. In many violence- and conflict-affected countries, governments do not have full territorial control, even in their largest cities. In some cases, governments have used or allowed the use of illegitimate force by non-state actors, such as private security forces, to protect and exploit private interests. This reality has important implications for development, justice, and security because it implies a tacit alliance between certain public authorities and private armed groups that are not accountable to the public interest. As a result, the elite control resources at the expense of inclusive economic and social development. This results in more violence and undermines state legitimacy and accountability. Negotiating security in East Africa The Centre for Human Rights and Policy Studies will assess how low-income urban communities in the four East African nations negotiate their security. It will document alternative sources of governance, security, and justice that urban communities apply when state security forces are weak, unresponsive, or abusive. It will also examine the implications of these informal mechanisms on state legitimacy and community development. The research aims to better understand the mechanisms and alliances that urban communities rely on to promote their security and access to resources. The project will highlight the degree to which community-led security mechanisms have been effective in responding to urban communities' security needs and demonstrate the implications for state security forces' legitimacy and accountability.

Project ID
Project Status
End Date
36 months
IDRC Officer
Martha Mutisi
Total Funding
CA$ 522,100.00
Governance and Justice
Governance and Justice
Institution Country
Project Leader
Mutuma Ruteere
Centre for Human Rights and Policy Studies (CHRIPS)