Violent extremism in Africa is setting in motion a dramatic reversal of development gains and threatening to stunt prospects of development for decades to come. From 2011 to 2016, it caused 33,300 fatalities as well as widespread displacement, creating situations of pronounced and critical humanitarian need. The 2015 United Nations Plan of Action on Preventing Violent Extremism urges the global community of states to pay closer attention to the root causes and drivers of violent extremism, after decades of over concentration on militarised approaches.
The Journey to Extremism in Africa report represents a major output of UNDP Africa’s Preventing and Responding to Violent Extremism in Africa programme, which has set out since 2015 to provide leadership and support to national and regional partners in delivering development-focused and effective responses to the expanding crises associated with violent extremism across the continent.
Just as violent extremism profoundly impacts the attainment of development goals, so the search for solutions must also place development approaches at its centre. Still, the evidence base concerning the causes, consequences and trajectories informing violent extremism – and what works in preventing it – remains weak globally. This is particularly true in Africa when compared to other regions.
The UNDP Africa Journey to Extremism study represents a unique contribution towards creating precisely such an evidence base concerning the drivers and incentives for recruitment in Africa. This study is drawn from an unprecedented number of interviews with former recruits from multiple violent extremist groups spanning the continent.1 The research process was developed with the objective of understanding the dynamics of the recruitment process, from its initial conditions and factors, through to the ‘tipping point’ that triggered particular individuals to take the step of joining a violent extremist group where others did not. Analysis of these findings yields new insights into pathways for more effective policy and programming responses.
Please note: This report was published in 2017.