Strengthening core state functions to mitigate and prevent different manifestations of violence

In the context of exploring the dynamics and logics of violence and responses to it by the state and the international community, Nigeria and Sierra Leone make interesting case studies. Sierra Leone is a post conflict setting while Nigeria is in the critical risk category of the 2011 Foreign Policy/Fund for Peace Failed State index.

Young men in a cell while detained on the remand wing of the Pademba Road Prison. The walls are covered in graffiti that includes the words: 'Freedom Time, wan day me'. Credit: Aubrey Wade / Panos

Both countries are located in a world region which has a deep and long history of political, socio-economic and structural violence and is increasingly affected by regional and international drivers of violence, such as transnational drug-trafficking.

Nigeria case study

This case study will elaborate a framework for the design of effective violence mitigation and prevention policies in the Niger Delta. This will take a two-pronged approach focusing:

  1. on the macro level of the political settlement that underpins the existing regime of oil extraction in the Niger Delta and the use and distribution of oil revenues
  2. the possibilities that exist to move Nigeria toward integrated policy responses to specific forms of serious violence in the Niger Delta.

A multi-level governance lens will address both issues as they cannot be tackled effectively by either the authorities on their own. This will be complemented with a multi-actor governance approach in recognition of the multiplicity of actors and stakeholders involved.

Sierra Leone case study

This case study will focus on violence related to the youth and will examine two aspects:

  1. how the current political settlement involving political elites, traditional leaders, donors and multinational companies has been contested through violent and non-violent means by the youth
  2. how policy responses to development and violence have been fragmented. For example, government responses to mitigate and prevent violence have officially been on electoral violence while development-led approaches to youth unemployment have ignored the security dimensions.

The study will provide insights into potential pathways to a more inclusive political settlement.

These case studies are being undertaken as part of the Addressing and Mitigating Violence programme, which focuses on ‘newer’ forms of violence and organised crime as well as the changing dynamics of long-standing situations of violence.

Project details

start date
1 April 2012


About this project

Programmes and centres
Addressing and mitigating violence

Recent work


External Stresses in West Africa: Cross-border Violence and Cocaine Trafficking

IDS Policy Briefing 60

The 2011 World Development Report on conflict, security and development highlights the centrality of ‘external stresses’ for generating insecurity and increasing the risk of violence in fragile areas. West African states are particularly vulnerable, with serious concerns around cross-border...

8 May 2014