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Development Account Projects

Urban safety for the poor through local-government capacity-building, with a focus on the most vulnerable groups in Asia and the Pacific


Practices and approaches have been developed that enable local governments to play an active role in urban safety for the most vulnerable groups. However, in the Asia and the Pacific region, the application and development of these approaches has been rather limited, and there has been no focused capacity-building or development of relevant tools at the subregional level. Enabling local governments to understand the concept of community-based urban safety for the poor, and providing them access to practices and tools, will lead to development policies and programmes that can improve the safety and security of the most vulnerable and the poorest in urban areas.

The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), through its Safer Cities Programme, supports the implementation of the Habitat Agenda and the outcome of the International Conference on Sustainable Safety (Durban, 2003), which explicitly states that the local level is the most appropriate place to take action, with mayors taking the lead in promoting community safety.

The project will introduce Asia and the Pacific to the new thinking and practices now emerging on urban safety. The pilot cities involved in the region will be provided with and trained in the use of a comprehensive toolkit that has been developed to support local crime-prevention initiatives. The programme will make available the experience of cities in its network (including cities in Europe, Africa and North America, as well as Asia and Australia). The programme will operate through advocacy, tools development and knowledge management, as well as direct capacity-building at the local level. It will be implemented by UN-Habitat, in collaboration with ESCAP. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime will ensure that the results feed into the broader debate on international guidelines and norms for the criminal justice system.


To strengthen the capacity of local governments to promote urban safety practices and nurture a culture of crime prevention in Asia and the Pacific.

Expected accomplishments:

  • Better access for key stakeholders and urban authorities to knowledge of successful practices and tools for improving urban safety
  • Enhanced ability of urban local governments to form effective partnerships with their stakeholders, including the most vulnerable groups (such as youth at risk) to address urban safety
  • Enhanced skills and knowledge of stakeholders to develop effective community-based policies and programmes for improving urban safety

Implementation status:

The project activities centred around understanding the urban safety issues in the region, consolidating presence in the region through implementing pilot activities (in New Delhi, Philippines and Cambodia), advocacy, raising crucial evidence and disseminating the results. The project gained a strong momentum and many partners in the region have committed to adopting the approach and up-scaling activities. CITYNET, an international organisation with more than 100 cities and local governments as members from more than 20 countries in the Asia Pacific, has identified 10 champion cities within their network that will take the urban safety agenda forward in the region over the next coming years. CITYNET will monitor the implementation and will provide training and technical support to the 10 cities.

The study on ‘Urban safety for the poor in Asia-Pacific’ has been published and launched at various regional meetings. The study is based on in-depth research in three sub-regions (South-East Asia, South-Asia and the Pacific) and informed by nine city case-studies.Studies on slum-upgrading and security issues in Bangladesh and Papua New Guinea have also been developed and printed.

A website has been established as a regional on-line facility on urban safety.  The on-line urban safety toolkit with twenty good practice case-studies from the region and training modules has been completed and is available on the website.

Thematic work has focused in particular on promoting community policing (building trust between the community and the police), mainstreaming safety in post-conflict reconstruction and slums-upgrading and preventing gender-based violence (for example through conducting women’s safety audits).

The commitment of CITYNET to support this network of cities in the region will ensure the sustainability of the actions developed through the Development Account project contribution.