Tag Archives: Burundi
1 Nov

On hearing that I had been offered a job as peaceworker in Burundi, my friends and family offered their congratulations followed by silence and then… where´s Burundi? To clear up any doubts, have a look at the map below.

The second question was why? Although the conflict between the two predominate ethnic tribes (the Hutus and Tutsis) ended in the Arusha Peace Accords in 2005 and were subsequently followed by cease-fire agreements with individual rebel factions, Burundi still remains a fragile state. With an influx of repatriates, internally displaced persons returning and demobilised combatants (RDExCs), both local and national authorities have struggled to reintegrate these individuals into an already overburdened infrastructure. It is within this context and through the belief that the peace agreements would not be able to adequately socioeconomically reintegrate RDExCs, CEDAC was created in 2005. CEDAC was founded by Eric Niragira, an ex-child soldier, who believed that to achieve sustainable peace, trust had to be rebuilt between neighbours and a new Burundian social fabric woven.

CEDAC currently has three projects to foster a positive environment for reconciliation. Firstly, an initiative in the northern Cibitoke province sees RDExCs and the wider community working side by side in short term local development contracts which have an end to improve the quality of life in the selected village. After completing their four month contracts, project participants receive a lump sum of their salary to serve as a start-up fund to form collectives generating sustainable economic opportunities. Secondly, in Muramvya a peer support programme addresses the psychosocial needs of survivors of armed violence but is also a source of outreach work providing individuals with logistical information about how to access essential services like health. Finally, CEDAC organises community work days that bring together RDExCs and other individuals to voluntarily contribute their time to an initiative benefiting the whole community; for instance building the foundation for a primary school. All of these projects stimulate interaction between ex combatants and survivors of armed violence, thus helping to overcome the common scenario of stigmatisation and ostracisation of RDExCs. Instead, a positive and engaging shared experience is created counterbalancing the powder keg of potential violence.

CEDAC, for me, is an organisation that follows the idea of positive peace. Peace is not just the mere absence of war, but is a state in which all individuals are able to satisfy their basic needs and have social, economic and judicial equality. Although this is sadly far from the reality in Burundi, CEDAC is striving to make this a reality from its community based approach.

I, as a QPSW peaceworker, have so far been working with CEDAC to expand their communication strategy through establishing a blog, facebook profile and soon re-launching its website. I really cannot do CEDAC´s innovative work credit in just a summarised paragraph; I can only provide you with a flavour of all the positive actions that they carry out. I´d really encourage you to check them out on facebook CEDAC Burundi or the blog.

In the year with CEDAC, I will be involved in a small arms survey monitoring the impact of armed violence on communities either side of the Democratic Republic of Congo´s border and evaluating how CEDAC can use its expertise to bring about peace. I look forward to being able to share this amazing experience with you through the PO BOX Peace blog entries.

Much of the above is about work, but I shouldn´t mislead you into thinking there is no relaxation time. My Sunday afternoon tradition has already been firmly established of sitting by Lake Tanganyika watching some amazing sunsets. On leaving, I´d like to share this moment of natural beauty in Burundi with you.

Amahoro (peace in Kirundi)

Lisa, CEDAC

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