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Social Cohesion and Violence Prevention

August 14, 2013

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  • Some 1.5 billion people live in countries affected by violent conflict. Since 2000, the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank's fund for the poorest, has provided over US$22 billion in post-conflict reconstruction assistance to fragile and conflict-affected countries.

While millions of people are stepping out of poverty in developing countries, some 1.5 billion of the world’s poorest live in countries where conflict and fragility have trapped them in a cycle of poverty and violence.  Over the last two decades, concern has risen over "fragile" states and situations. These areas - now home to at least a quarter of the world's people - experience some of the worst development conditions.

Most fragile countries fall far behind on achieving the Millennium Development Goals, and they often generate spillover effects, such as trafficking in illegal goods and persons and corruption, that threaten the stability of neighboring countries. Responding to these situations has become a top priority for the international community. The World Bank established support to fragility as one of its six strategic priorities and devoted the 2011 World Development Report to the topic.

Social Cohesion

The focus on strengthening the resilience of societies to violence is extremely relevant for fragile states and post-conflict situations. Most fragile states have high levels of violence. It is also relevant for middle-income countries, especially in urban settings. In the middle-income countries of Latin America and East Asia, large urban centers frequently suffer from the effects of high violence. Mayors are increasingly aware of the high cost of urban violence and its very negative impact on urban economic and social development.

The importance of "creating conflict resilient cities" is gaining ground and becoming priority focus of mayors’ attention and international cooperation. The gender aspects of conflict, crime and violence are very important. Women are the primary victims of domestic violence and are increasingly victims of common violence. At the same time, most victims and perpetrators of violent crime are young men. Successful social and economic integration of disaffected young men, excombatants, refugees and other displaced people should be a critical development goal in many fragile and conflict-affected countries where the risk of violence escalation is high. Governance and corruption are also closely linked with violence and crime, especially organized crime.

theHive: Knowledge Platform

The World Bank and several partner institutions developed theHive knowledge-sharing platform to connect practitioners, researchers, policymakers, and organizations working on issues of fragility, conflict, and violence around the world. The collaboration helps to strengthen relationships and knowledge-sharing between "hard-to-reach" groups, such as grassroots leaders and local government officials, and experts working within non-governmental organizations, think tanks, and the private sector.