Action for Peace and Development in Burundi

Located at the heart of the African Great Lakes region, Burundi weathered a decade of conflict and violence in which over 300,000 – most of them civilians – were killed. The civil war has had a huge economic impact on this small country and contributed to the widespread poverty that still exists today. Burundi was ranked 185th out of 187 countries on the 2011 United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Index, with eight out of ten Burundians living below the poverty line. While development progress has been made in some areas, the country is still struggling to emerge from its devastating civil war and the situation remains fragile. As the plans for the establishment of a national Truth and Reconciliation Commission have stalled, it is important to engage the country’s vast youth population in the peacebuilding process.

Partnering with Peace Direct, the McConnell International Foundation has raised funds through Live Below the Line 2013 for the scaling up of a pilot project run by local NGO, Action for Peace and Development. In its new phase, the project will establish youth peace clubs across Burundi, engaging both students and young people in dialogue, and teaching them the skills they need to find non-violent means of resolving disagreements. The peace clubs are also a place where young people can develop their own practical ideas for how to achieve a more peaceful, tolerant and democratic society in Burundi. Participants are trained to be peace activists and to prevent violent conflicts in their own communities.

The young peacebuilders share their knowledge and skills with their peers, families and other local stakeholders, as well as wider audiences through radio shows and outreach activities. Ultimately, this project serves to facilitate dialogue and diverse interactions with youth from different backgrounds, supporting the country’s formal peace process and helping to build an emerging democratic society in Burundi.