Cali, First City in Colombia to Implement the “Cure Violence” Model Program


Friday, 15 February 2019


Alvaralice Foundation

Cure Violence”, is a public health based methodology used for the prevention of violence that sees violence as learned behavior that can be prevented using a three-pronged approach:

1) Interrupting transmission of the disease

2) reducing the risk of the highest risk

3) Changing community norms

Cure Violence was founded in 1995 by Gary Slutkin, M.D., former head of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Intervention Development Unit and Professor of Epidemiology and International Health at the University of Illinois/Chicago School of Public Health. Cure Violence launched in West Garfield Park, one of the most violent communities in Chicago, and was quick to produce results, reducing shootings by 67% in its first year.

Dr. Slutkin’s work has been internationally recognized by many organizations, including ASHOKA, who nominated him as an ASHOKA Fellow in 2007.

Through the Cure Violence model Dr. Gary Slutkin is eradicating and preventing gun violence in the most dangerous of urban areas through a unique model in which he treats violence as an infectious disease. His CeaseFire model, informed by over a decade of battling infectious diseases in Africa, and honed by years of careful implementation in North America, is significantly reducing the incidence of gun violence in the U.S. and also spreading internationally.

Cure Violence  is a teaching, training, research and assessment NGO focused on a health approach to violence prevention. The Cure Violence health model is used by more than 50 communities in the U.S., as well as in many countries ranging from El Salvador, México and Honduras to South Africa, Iraq and Syria. Cities and organizations implementing the Cure Violence health model regularly experience reductions in violence within the first year ranging from 40-70% and greater reductions in subsequent years.

Because of its amazing results this program has been financed by international organizations such as USAID, The World Bank, and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

For over five years the Alvaralice Foundation actively sought international funding in order to implement the first “Cure Violence” model in Colombia.  Finally, in December of 2016, negotiations were finalized for the financing of this project through a strategic alliance with the Mayor’s Office of Cali.  In mid-2017, the pilot project was launched in the Charco Azul and Comuneros I Districts, which were selected due to their high levels of violence, gang activities and invisible borders. These neighborhoods were also chosen because this type of intervention has never been tried in these communities.

Participants of the “Cure Violence” Cali project chose to change its name to “Abriendo Caminos” (“Opening Pathways”) which signifies “the opening of paths for the youth that don’t know where to go or what to do with their lives”.

One of the most impressive achievements of this program to date, in the Charco Azul neighborhood, has been the confidence and acknowledgement by the local community of the work done by the volunteers (or “liaisons”) responsible for preventing conflicts in the area resulting in the disappearance of the invisible borders and the reduction of homicides by 73% from 2017 to 2018.

Another important achievement of this project is the work of the “liaisons” (or “interrupters”) who work directly with the high-risk youth, helping them transform their lives and find new opportunities. Thanks to this, the Mayor’s Office of Cali, the Undersecretary of the TIO program and the Secretary of Peace have engaged 50 high-risk youths program participants as members of the Agents of Peace and Civic Culture program started by the Office of the Mayor of the City of Cali.

Did you know that?:

  • “The Cure Violence Health Model uses epidemic control method to reduce violence. We train carefully selected members of the community — trusted insiders — to anticipate where violence may occur and intervene before it erupts. And we engage the entire community to change behavior and norms.”
  • “Cure Violence” understands that violence persists regardless of punishments or moral judgements, and to effectively confront social violence, social norms must be changed.
  • Several Cure Violence program sites have been externally evaluated, demonstrating strong results in multiple sites.  In June 2009, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Jr. referenced Cure Violence as a “rational, data-driven, evidence-based, and smart approach to crime.”  The Economist termed the Cure Violence method “the approach that will come to prominence.”
  • “Trained, culturally-appropriate outreach workers work with the highest risk to make them less likely to commit violence by meeting them where they are at, talking to them about the costs of using violence, and helping them to obtain the social services they need – such as job training and drug treatment.”

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