By Robert Muggah for IDRC. This paper issues a preliminary overview of the state of research on the urban dilemma. It was commissioned by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) with the intention of supporting an action-oriented research agenda in 2012 and beyond. It is based principally on a desk review of publicly available on-line and peer-reviewed literature in multiple languages. The paper is also informed by consultations with scholars and practitioners spanning diverse fields. Undertaken over a two month period (December 2011 to January 2012) the paper assembles competing and complimentary theories, evidence and practical examples on the complex relationships between urbanization, poverty and violence.
The study set out to achieve four objectives:
1. Document what is known about the connections between violence, inequalities and poverty in urban centres and assess the strength of the knowledge base. Particular focus was given to assessing evidence from Latin America and the Caribbean, Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia;
2. Describe the state of theory on violence, urbanization and poverty reduction, and assess the extent to which they interact, and whether emerging evidence actually informs theoretical debates and assumptions guiding work in these fields;
3. Identify key evidence gaps that require further investigation; and
4. Map out key actors (researchers and research organizations) that are producing knowledge on these issues.