Violent Deaths in Africa 2020 Data

Comprehensive Analysis of Violent Deaths and Female Victimization in Africa: A Deep Dive into The 2020 Small Arms Survey Report 


ARAC International’s in-depth analysis of the 2020 Small Arms Survey data focuses on violent deaths, conflict fatalities, and female victimization across Africa. This report delves into regional trends, highlights critical areas like Nigeria, DRC, and South Africa, and provides insights into violence against women in Western and Eastern Africa.



This report provides an analysis of data from the "Small Arms Survey Global Violent Deaths (GVD) 2020" dataset, focusing on violent deaths, conflict deaths, intentional homicides, and specifically, female victims of lethal violence and firearm killings in Africa. The insights are crucial for understanding the dynamics of violence and conflict across different regions and countries within the continent.

Key Findings

1. Conflict Deaths and General Violence

2. Intentional Homicides

3. Female Victims

4. Regional Variances

Analysis and Correlations

Implications and Recommendations

Conflict Deaths and General Violence in Africa

1. Western Africa: Epicenter of Conflict and General Violence

Western Africa, with the highest number of conflict deaths (14,269) and violent deaths (48,103) in Africa, stands out as a region deeply impacted by both conflict and non-conflict-related violence. The high conflict death toll points to ongoing armed conflicts, possibly fueled by political instability, insurgencies, and cross-border tensions. Factors such as economic disparities, weak governance, and the proliferation of arms may contribute to this scenario. The region's high violent death rate further suggests rampant criminal activities, communal clashes, and potentially widespread societal violence. This situation necessitates a multifaceted approach that includes strengthening state institutions, promoting socio-economic development, and implementing effective disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) programs.

2. Eastern Africa: Violence Beyond Conflict

Eastern Africa's situation is characterized by a high number of violent deaths (40,901) and a significant tally of deaths by firearms (12,559). While the region's conflict death rate is lower than in Western Africa, the prevalence of firearm-related deaths indicates a serious issue with armed violence outside of traditional conflict zones. This could be a result of factors such as organized crime, gang activities, inter-ethnic conflicts, and resource-based disputes. The data underscores the need for robust law enforcement measures, community policing, and conflict resolution mechanisms that address the root causes of this violence.

3. Southern Africa: Non-Conflict Violence

Southern Africa presents an intriguing case, reporting zero conflict deaths yet a substantial number of violent deaths (26,580), including those by firearms (3,963). This indicates that the predominant forms of violence in the region are not linked to armed conflicts but rather to other factors, possibly including urban crime, domestic violence, and social unrest. The prevalence of firearm-related deaths points to issues with gun control and the need for effective strategies to manage and reduce the circulation of illegal arms. Addressing socio-economic inequalities, enhancing social services, and investing in crime prevention and criminal justice reforms are critical steps in reducing violence in Southern Africa.

Overall Implications for Africa

The data from these regions paints a complex picture of violence in Africa, where conflict, crime, and social unrest intertwine. It highlights the need for tailored approaches to peace and security, respecting the unique challenges each region faces. International collaboration, regional peacekeeping efforts, and local initiatives must work in concert to address these multifaceted issues effectively. Investment in data collection and research is also vital to understand the evolving nature of violence and to inform policy and intervention strategies.

Intentional Homicides in Africa

Western Africa and Eastern Africa: Hotspots of Intentional Homicides

The alarming numbers of intentional homicides in Western Africa and Eastern Africa, particularly in Nigeria (20,306) and South Africa (19,846), reveal a critical aspect of violence that extends beyond the realm of armed conflicts. These figures signify the presence of high levels of non-conflict-related violence, which can encompass a range of activities including criminal acts, gang warfare, domestic violence, and social unrest.

Factors Contributing to High Homicide Rates:

Case Studies: Nigeria and South Africa


The situation in Western and Eastern Africa underscores the need for comprehensive strategies to tackle intentional homicides. Key approaches include:

Addressing intentional homicides in Africa requires a holistic approach that combines law enforcement with socio-economic development, community engagement, and regional cooperation to effectively reduce violence and promote a more peaceful and stable continent.

Female Victims of Violence in Africa

1. Western and Eastern Africa: Epicenters for Female Victimization

The data indicating high numbers of female victims of lethal violence and firearm killings in Western Africa and Eastern Africa is particularly alarming. It highlights a grim reality where women in these regions are disproportionately affected by violence.

Western Africa: A Region of Concern

Eastern Africa: Rising Concerns

2. Notable Countries: Nigeria, DRC, and South Africa

Implications and Recommendations

The high number of female victims in Western and Eastern Africa calls for immediate action at both local and international levels. Addressing this issue requires a multifaceted approach that combines legal action, socio-economic development, community engagement, and a concerted effort to challenge and change the societal norms that perpetuate violence against women.

Data source:

Global Violent Deaths (GVD). (n.d.).

Comprehensive Analysis of Violent Deaths and Female Victimization in Africa: A Deep Dive into The 2020 Small Arms Survey Report © 2023 by M. Nuri Shakoor, ARAC International Inc is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0