Assessing the Effectiveness of Community-led Security Mechanisms

CHRIPS is leading a four-country project that examines the organization and delivery of security through initiatives that are led by communities in low income urban neighbourhoods, the hypotheses being that state security engagement in low income neighbourhoods views the residents as a source of crime and therefore security for the residents within the neighbourhoods is not a priority. Residents respond to the insecurity in their neighbourhoods through measures that may be purely community-led and delivered, or undertaken in partnership with various state agencies. The study seeks to explore these community-led measures, how they work, why they work and what security policy lessons can be derived from the community initiatives.


The project is a three-year study, supported financially by the International Development Research Centre of Canada (IDRC). CHRIPS is working in partnership with scholars and researchers affiliated to  the Department of Political Science at the University of Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), Centre for Basic Research in Kampala (Uganda), Centre for Conflict Management at the University of Rwanda (Rwanda).

Policy Relevance and Contribution

  1. The study seeks to address two critical gaps with regard to the governance of security in low income urban neighbourhoods in East Africa. First, the continued treatment of security as the preserve of the state which is problematic as it overlooks the realities that challenge the state’s monopoly over security. The waning dominance of the state in the use of force calls for a better understanding of the emerging community-led mechanisms in enhancing public security.
  2. A second critical policy gap. The limited knowledge on the effectiveness of community-led security mechanisms has contributed to preoccupation with increasing the presence and numbers of the public police in low income urban neighbourhoods as the only measure of security for residents. However, the public police are in many instances the source of insecurity for the residents of low income urban neighbourhoods, stemming from their poor relations with the community as well as the policing models that see the residents of low income urban neighbourhoods as predisposed to crime. As a result, the residents are often the subject of surveillance, restriction and punishment.
  3. The study will contribute to a better understanding of public security provision and governance in East Africa and particularly nodal governance of security in Africa.
  4. In addition, the study will contribute to an understanding of the shifts and developments in security for the residents of low income urban neighbourhoods and their implications for policy, governance and state-wide security provision.
  5. Through the study, we are developing a typology of community-led initiatives for security provision in low income urban neighbourhoods in East Africa. The study will contribute to the comparative understanding of the differences and similarities in community-led responses to security needs among the resident of low income urban neighbourhoods and generate interest in further studies and policy investment in community-led mechanisms in the region and beyond.

Management of the Study

The CHRIPS research team is led by Dr. Mutuma Ruteere, Director of CHRIPS, whose extensive experience in research and policy development on matters of security and security governance provide a nuanced approach to the study, as well as ensuring an academically sound and pragmatic study design. The research teams in Dar-es-Salaam, Kampala, Kigali and Nairobi include a team of scholars and researchers with expertise in governance, security, human rights, political science and research, all affiliated to CHRIPS. The Nairobi study is undertaken by the CHRIPS team, led by Eva Ayiera and Sheila Kinya Gitonga. Pacifique Barihuta leads the Rwanda team while Drs.William J. Walwa and Godfrey Asimwe lead the Tanzania and Uganda teams respectively.

The team also includes expert scholars, researchers and practitioners who serve as a reference group, and lend their expertise to ensuring the study methods, findings and analysis are sound. Prof. Mohammed Bakari in Tanzania, Dr. Prisca Kamungi in Kenya and Dr. Eric Ndushabandi in Rwanda and Belgium, come together as the expert reference group for the project.