Demobilisation, disarmament and reintegration (DDR) are common and yet contested approaches in African post-conflict environments. Most DDR programmes fail to offer credible alternative livelihood options. This panel explores how urbanization has created an informal DDR programme.
Demobilisation, disarmament and reintegration (DDR) are common and yet contested approaches in African post-conflict environments. They also mostly do not work for a number of reasons: Lack of political will, the fact that DDR programmes become an exploitable resource for conflict actors and the dearth of credible alternative livelihood options that DDR programmes offer. DDR programmes can become a livelihood in itself. Reintegration of former combatants is tricky, not just because their livelihood options are limited, but because they are often not welcome in their former communities. Many of them seek a life in town. This panel seeks to explore the extent to which processes of urbanization interlink with DDR. Several examples show that formal DDR can contribute to urbanization—in Liberia, for example, 45 per cent of ex-combatants chose to move to Monrovia instead of returning to their home areas (Kim-Westendorf 2016). In South Sudan, urbanization and DDR connect because particularly young men move between urban livelihoods and violent rebellion to then enter near-town DDR programmes. Other possible links to explore are the presence of guns in town and how these shape both the urban space as well as the flexibility of participation in DDR. The panel further seeks case studies exploring the experience of former combatants of utilizing urban spaces for their own—informal—DDR. With urban spaces, particularly in African post-conflict settings, increasingly insecure, and DDR programmes in disreputation, this panel seeks to explore how informal DDR processes might interlink with urbanization in peaceful ways.