Preventing election violence in Burundi through peer-support

Report
from Action on Armed Violence
Published on 25 Jul 2014 View Original

By Caroline Madueno

In 2010 the first democratic elections took place in Burundi after a long and devastating civil war. The election period was marked by violence and political unrest, involving violence between youth supporting the ruling CNDD-FDD party and those supporting the opposition FRODEBU. Widespread youth poverty and unemployment were the main factors pushing youth to take part in violence.

AOAV and its partners are joining efforts to reduce the vulnerability of youth to manipulation and improve social cohesion in order to prevent a repeat of the violence during the 2015 elections. The project focuses on men and women between the ages of 18 and 35 who are ex-combatants, affiliated to political parties and other youth who suffered from the past civil war who will participate in psycho-social support, income generating activities and dialogue events.

Twenty peer-support workers and two facilitators were trained over a period of four weeks in conflict resolution, violence prevention, non-violent communication, gender-based violence (GBV), as well as a methodology for saving and lending money and entrepreneurship. These Peer Support workers are now prepared to support and guide their peers in the community.

A community leader pointed out, “in the past months, security prevailed in our village Sororezo but recently tensions have escalated between youth affiliated to political parties, perhaps this is due to the fact that we are approaching the election period. Now that this project has been implemented, we think that it will help them a lot and be useful for the whole community”.

On June 30th, a community event was held to kick-off Project Abunzubumwe in Mutimbuzi and Kanyosha Districts of Bujumbura Rural. The event brought together several local authorities, religious leaders and civil society leaders during which the peer-support workers informed community youth about the project.

Seven days later, 500 youth have been selected, of which 109 are ex-combatants, 322 members are members of political youth leagues, and the remaining 69 are considered at high risk of taking part in violence.

These 500 youth will:

  • Receive psycho-social counselling
  • Design and organize events with AOAV, CEDAC and AEOEP, in their community on peacebuilding.
  • In several groups, they will produce radio spots; one group will be selected to mainstream their radio spot live.
  • Form SILC groups
  • Receive entrepreneurship training.