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Community voices and initiatives for building safer spaces in Latin America and the Caribbean

During the 2000s in Latin America and the Caribbean, 1.4 million people lost their lives as a result of violent crime. Cities across the region are at the epicentre of a regional security crisis. They become favourable sites for multiple forms of violence, such as interpersonal violence, gender-based violence, exploitation, and extortion. The poorest residents of these cities are disproportionately affected by violence. Homicide, for example, has become a major cause of death for young men from marginalized areas, while women endure the highest levels of victimization from nonfatal physical, sexual, and psychological abuse.

Despite policy progress on a number of fronts, and temporary homicide reductions in some cities like Medellin, security policies are still dominated by militaristic and often repressive approaches that reproduce violence, stigmatize affected communities, and narrowly focus on homicide rates. While reducing homicide rates is important, it can hide other forms of violence, such as sexual and gender-based violence and the diverse needs within vulnerable populations.

This project, implemented by Universidad de Antioquia in Colombia, represents a collaboration that links institutions across Latin America and the Caribbean with longstanding experience in reducing violence affecting youth and women. These institutions are joining efforts to shine new light on the complex process of building safer spaces in cities affected by violence and insecurity. It will also include a comparative analysis of community responses to violence and insecurity between Spanish-speaking Latin America and the English Caribbean.

The project will identify the key drivers of violence in selected communities in each country and their impact across generational and gender divides; identify community responses to chronic violence; and analyze how these relate to the recurrence of sexual and gender-based violence and other forms of lethal and non-lethal violence. It will analyze the impacts of public policies to build safer spaces, and how they are being influenced by existing community interventions. It will strengthen the capacity of communities to influence policymaking and public debates in ways that lead to more effective local responses to the regional security crisis. It will also create an international network of researchers to share the reality of violence and strategies for building safer spaces across these six countries.

Project ID
Project Status
End Date
24 months
IDRC Officer
Adrian Di Giovanni
Total Funding
CA$ 557,800.00
El Salvador
Democratic and Inclusive Governance
Governance and Justice
Institution Country
Project Leader
Pablo Angarita
Universidad de Antioquia