On February 7 the U.N. Development Programme reported that searching for better jobs eclipses religious ideology as the main driver of recruitment to violent extremist groups in Sub-Saharan Africa. Moreover, 71% of 2,200 interviewees said the precipitating event for joining such groups was human rights abuse, often conducted by state security forces.
According to an officer of the U.N. Programme, ““Sub-Saharan Africa has become the new global epicenter of violent extremism with 48% of global terrorism deaths in 2021. This surge not only adversely impacts lives, security and peace, but also threatens to reverse hard-won development gains for generations to come. Security-driven counter-terrorism responses are often costly and minimally effective, yet investments in preventive approaches to violent extremism are woefully inadequate. The social contract between states and citizens must be reinvigorated to tackle root causes of violent extremism.”
To counter and prevent violent extremism, “the report recommends greater investment in basic services including child welfare; education; quality livelihoods; and investing in young men and women. It also calls for scaling-up exit opportunities and investment in rehabilitation and community-based reintegration services.”
This U.N. report underscores New York Times columnist Ross Douthat’s contention that a major challenge for the world this century is responding to the growing turbulent population of the African continent.
 Musambi (AP), Sub-Saharan Africa is ‘new epicenter’ of extremism, says UN, StarTribune (Feb. 7, 2023); Hope for better jobs eclipses religious ideology as main driver of recruitment to violent extremist groups in Sub-Saharan Africa, U.N. Dev. Prog. (Feb. 7, 2023); Journey to extremism in Africa: Pathways to recruitment and disengagement, U.N. Dev. Prog. (2020).
 Another Defining Challenge of the 21st Century, dwkcommentaries.com (Jan. 28, 2023); Skepticism About Douthat’s Defining Challenge of the 21st Century, dwkcommentareis.com (Jan. 30, 2023).