Burundi

USAID Field Report Burundi Feb 2003

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United States Agency for International Development
Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance
Office of Transition Initiatives
Program Description

Program Goals and Objectives

USAID/OTI's goal in Burundi is to promote good governance and the active and informed participation of citizens. To work towards this goal, OTI has the following objectives:

  • To increase active and informed discussions among people of diverse ethnic groups about common public issues.

  • To encourage the evolution of government institutions at all levels to be more transparent and accountable.
To achieve these objectives, USAID/OTI is undertaking the following activities:

Legislative Strengthening Initiative

OTI is supporting a legislative assistance program to enhance the Burundian legislature's role in promoting peace and reconciliation. The National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI) are working closely with the National Assembly and the Senate to enhance awareness among Burundian legislators of their roles and responsibilities under APRA, and to increase dialogue and cooperation among legislators from different political parties. The program is also encouraging representatives to undertake outreach initiatives that increase public dialogue and participation.

Burundi Initiative for Peace

The Burundi Initiative for Peace (BIP), implemented with the International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES), provides a series of small grants to encourage popular support for APRA and for the transitional government. The small grants program works in targeted geographic areas to support activities that maintain the momentum for peace.

COUNTRY SITUATION

Sporadic fighting continued in various parts of the country in February despite the cease-fire agreement signed in December. The Burundian Armed Forces (FAB) report that they are engaging the rebels only when fired upon, or to protect the population, however it is generally accepted that both the CNDD-FDD and the armed forces are not observing the cease-fire agreement. Tanzanian Radio reported that the CNDD-FDD rebel forces recruited an additional 800 young men from the refugee camps in Ngara, Tanzania in February.

On February 14, Jean-Bosco Ndayikengurukiye, the leader of the smaller faction CNDD-FDD rebel group, and Alain Mugabarabona, the leader of the Palipehutu-FNL, returned home after years of exile. The two leaders will participate in the implementation of the cease-fire agreement. Mugabarabona was not followed by a significant numbers of FNL combatants. The larger FNL faction, led by Agathon Rwasa, has refused to sign the cease-fire agreement.

The Government of Burundi and the leader of the CNDD-FDD signed an agreement on February 20 addressing the structure of the cease-fire implementation, the need for urgent deployment of the African Union Observer Mission, and the overall Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (DDR) program. The timeframe for the implementation of the DDR program, the criteria for demobilization, and quotas for those participating in DDR are issues that remain unresolved. Nkurunziza stated after the meeting that if the selection of countries in the African Union Observer Mission is not a participatory process, the CNDD-FDD will consider the mission members as "disruptors of the peace in Burundi." By the end of February, 35 members of the African Union Observer Mission had arrived in Burundi.

HIGHLIGHTS

A. Narrative Summary

On National Unity Day OTI supported several activities, such as soccer games, in the capital Bujumbura. The activities gathered large numbers of people from all ethnic groups to support peace and reconciliation.

The Ministry of Good Governance officially launched its OTI-supported "watch dog" project. This grass roots project will initially be implemented in four provinces. Negotiations are currently underway with a local NGO to implement the project. An official ceremony to launch the project attracted a large number of government officials, parliamentarians and NGOs interested in promoting transparency and accountability at all levels of government.

B. Indicators of Success

Five grants were awarded in February, totaling $84,586.

Burundian National Radio and Television (RTNB): This project supported RTNB to send a journalist to the cease-fire negotiations in Dar es Salaam, and to send live reports during the course of the proceedings.

Groupe des Jeunes Artistes du Burundi: This grant brings thirty young Tutsi and Hutu artists together for one month, providing materials for them to produce artwork conveying their thoughts around the theme of peace and reconciliation. The objectives for this project are: 1) to bring young people of different ethnicities together for one month to work together and to share their experiences; 2) to facilitate a national tour of the artwork produced and initiate discussion about peace and reconciliation; and, 3) to encourage young people to use art, rather than violence, to express their feelings.

The Burundi Leadership Training Program: This project will bring together leaders from all levels of Burundian society, from the grass roots to the highest levels of government, in four-day workshops. Some of the issues the workshops will address include: what attributes make a good leader, how to resolve conflict and build consensus, how to communicate, how to manage and plan, and how to build trust. OTI's contribution to the project is complemented by a $1 million grant from the World Bank to the Woodrow Wilson Center.

Burundi Direct: This local NGO was awarded funds to conduct a variety of activities in Bujumbura to celebrate National Unity Day on February 5. The activities, including sporting events, brought young people together from every neighborhood in Bujumbura, giving them the opportunity to not only play together but to sit down and talk about their lives, the peace process, and a way forward for Burundi.

Association Dushigikirane: This women's association in the province of Muramvya was awarded a grant to bring together approximately 300 women in three communes in the province. One-day seminars will be held in each of the three communes to discuss issues facing Burundi's women today, how to address those issues, and the role women have to play in bringing peace to the country. Participants will return to their communities to work on the issues discussed during the seminar.

C. Program Appraisal

February was relatively slow in terms of grants as OTI refocused activities in response to the signing of the cease-fire agreement and the need to prepare for the reintegration of ex-combatants and ex-military after the demobilization process. OTI has focused activities in the provinces of Bubanza, Kayanza, and Muramvya, but expects to expand its geographic scope to at least six more provinces in the future.

NEXT STEPS/IMMEDIATE PRIORITIES

  • Opening of a BIP field office in Bubanza, Muramvya, or Cayanza.

  • Preparation for the non-formal education program targeting communities expecting large numbers of returning ex-combatants.