Burundi: Reintegration efforts provide incomes and help to rebuild lives


An information session where a UNDP local coordinator is encouraging workers who have completed their 78 days of collective work to create local small-scale enterprises with the savings they have made. Photo: UNDP Burundi

For Marie-Chantal Misago in southwest Burundi, the road she is helping to rebuild to a nearby health centre and school is a sign of how things have improved since the war ended in 2005.

“The crisis ran so deep, I would never have imagined myself working with all these different groups of people,” says the mother of seven from Nyagasaka village, who is rehabilitating the five-mile road together with former combatants, returnees and other members of her community.

Highlights

  • The USD 24 million Community Rehabilitation Programme works in six of Burundi's 17 provinces severely affected by the 12-year war.
  • Women, youth, former combatants and other vulnerable groups rehabilitate basic infrastructure over 78 days. As of March 2012 there were almost 13,000 people participating in the programme.
  • With savings from their income 5,296 people so far have signed up to form associations to start micro-enterprises.

Misago is one of almost 13,000 people participating in a broad initiative supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) that provides short-term jobs to people living in areas that were severely affected by the conflict.

Women, youth, former combatants and other vulnerable groups are selected by the local authorities to rehabilitate basic infrastructure such as roads, bridges, schools and other buildings over a period of about 78 days.

They are also encouraged to save part of their incomes, and form associations that could support them to start small businesses such as tailoring and livestock rearing. Misago is one of the 5,296 people who have signed up, saving a third of what she earns to use as capital.

“I now have an income and can feed my children and buy school materials, something which was very difficult for me to do just a few months ago,” she says. “Now I have also registered with a group to operate a flour mill.”

The USD 24 million Community Rehabilitation Programme works in six of the country’s 17 provinces, and promotes the reintegration of ex-combatants, formerly displaced persons, and indigenous populations. It aims to reach almost 80,000 people, a third of them women, over three years. Women, youth, former combatants and other vulnerable groups rehabilitate basic infrastructure over 78 days.

As of March 2012 there were almost 13,000 people participating in the programme. With savings from their income 5,296 people so far have signed up to form associations to start micro-enterprises. The programme promotes the reintegration of ex-combatants, formerly displaced persons, and indigenous populations.

Not far from Nyagasaka, in the Rumonge urban centre, another 80 people are at work producing reinforced bricks and building a police station, which when completed in mid-2012 will help reinforce community security and rule of law.  

Jordan Ryan, who heads UNDP’s Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery, recently visited both Nyagasaka and Rumonge. “I can vouch for the fact that today, tools for rebuilding have replaced weapons, and that young citizens are in the process of working together to forge the future of the country,” Ryan said.

He also noted that by working together, community members and ex-combatants are developing more trusting relationships with one another— an important step towards building sustainable peace.