USAID/OTI Burundi Hot Topics Dec 2003

Report
from US Agency for International Development
Published on 31 Dec 2003
OTI Gives Burundi's Parliament Valuable Capacity-Enhancing Tools
PROGRAM DESCRIPTION

In its first year in Burundi, OTI supported the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Accord (APRA) by providing small grants to indigenous civil society groups, the media and the transitional government to promote good governance and citizen participation. OTI also promoted increased cooperation among legislators and greater interaction between legislators and their constituents. Responding to advances in the peace process and changing needs, OTI has redesigned its program to support community reintegration through community-based leadership development, vocational skills training, small-scale infrastructure reconstruction, and information dissemination. This new program begins in February 2004.

On December 18, 2003, OTI and Burundi's transitional National Assembly held a ceremony to commemorate the introduction of computers, Internet connections and computer training for the National Assembly, funded by OTI and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

Prior to this project, few Members of Parliament (MPs) had their own computers and Internet access. The majority used the local Internet cafe when they wanted to learn how other parliaments drafted laws and undertook parliamentary procedures.

Now, with their own computer center, MPs have direct Internet access, bringing them an important tool in communications and development of new legislation. When they are not in session, the room is full, with more members waiting their turn in the adjacent library.

One MP said that what they have learned about other parliaments through the Internet has helped them better manage their own work. With their new Internet connection, MPs can easily and quickly access and share information, as well as take on-line courses that improve their skills.

An additional benefit of the project has been to increase the parliament's transparency. With their new Internet tools, the parliament has developed its own website, where web users may learn about pending legislation, upcoming sessions, and other parliamentary activities. (See www.parlement-bdi.org/index.htm.)

For further information, please contact:

In Burundi: Cyndi Scarlett, OTI Burundi Country Representative at 257-955-635 or ScarlettCL@state.gov,
In Washington, D.C.: Carlisle J. Levine, Program Manager at 202-712-0955 or clevine@usaid.gov