600 Burundian youth fixing roads to help rebuild peace

Mar 24, 2017

© PNUD Burundi / Patrice Brizard / 2016

Since December 2016 more than 600 Burundian young women and men wearing t-shirts printed with the message “I commit to peace for my country” have been busy rehabilitating roads, and cleaning and constructing drainage systems in parts of the capital city Bujumbura to help build stronger community ties as a way to reinforce peace.

The rehabilitation works are focused in parts of the city that have in the past experienced tensions among residents - Cibitoke, Kamenge, Kanyosha, Musaga Mutakura and Ngagara – and the young labourers are drawn from different ethnic, political and social backgrounds.

The young women and men have been earning USD 3 a day.  US$ 2 is paid directly to them and US$ 1 is set aside as savings.  They have also been receiving training on how to manage small businesses for when the temporary works are completed in March 2017.

The 78-day cash-for-work initiative is organised by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), World Vision and Scouts du Burundi. It is part of the Community Protection and Social Cohesion Support Project that is supported by the UN Peacebuilding Fund, together with the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the UN Volunteers.

"The cash-for-work initiative has helped us to develop solid ties among ourselves, secure income and provide for the wellbeing of our kids and families,’ said Innocent Nahimana, a youth leader in Kamenge. “This also helped improve our social influence across the community."

To maintain these ties in the longer-term the business management training also encourages the young people to get together in small groups and pool their savings to create the small businesses that can provide services needed in the community such as repair shops or food kiosks.

In Burundi, UNDP is the lead agency on early recovery and durable solutions for crisis-affected communities, focused on a smooth transition between humanitarian and development activities.

In this role, UNDP has supported the Ministry of Human Rights, Social Affairs and Gender to revise the national strategy on reintegration of conflict-affected people that is the government’s main framework for linking emergency, recovery and development activities.

The principles underpinning the reintegration strategy include strengthening community resilience and promoting durable solutions to support voluntary, safe and dignified return, local integration or the resettlement of priority groups of refugees, returnees and internally displaced persons (IDPs).

Emphasis is placed on those most affected by the country’s crises such as women, youth and members of marginalized groups. 

As part of national reintegration efforts UNDP is implementing projects such as the Community Protection and Social Cohesion Support Project to improve the livelihoods of the most crisis-affected communities.

If scaled-up initiatives such as these could go a long way in improving livelihoods and contributing to peace and social cohesion in the Great Lakes region in the context of the UN Great Lakes Regional Strategic Framework. This inter-agency cross-border development plan was endorsed by the UN Security Council in March 2016 seeks to address the root causes of instability in the sub-region, among other priorities.

The UN regional strategic framework work is being implemented through UN funds, programmes and agencies initiatives along the following six pillars: i) sustainable natural resource management; ii) economic integration, cross-border trade and food and nutrition security; iii) mobility; iv) youth and adolescents; v) gender and sexual and gender-based violence; and vi) justice and conflict prevention. UNDP is leading work on pillars two and six.