Up to 300,000 people were killed in a genocide in Burundi between 1993 and 2005, in a Hutu-Tutsi conflict similar to its neighbour Rwanda. In 2015, the power-sharing truce that ended this civil war was tested by violence preceding elections for parliament and president.
In this fractious environment, we helped 25 grassroots organisations form a network of local peace organisations called INAMA. This monitors flashpoints at the community level and takes action to minimise violence. In some cases, INAMA’s early warning network helps prevent the outbreak of conflict. In others, where conflict has already occurred, they devise swift and peaceful solutions to hostilities.
Reports are logged using latest mobile technology and analysed by a committee of seasoned peacebuilders. Experts then pass information to relevant authorities and other organisations, so that appropriate action can be taken swiftly. Results of these activities include: monitoring weapon proliferation locally and nationally, working with various media to spread messages of peace rather than prejudice, promoting traditional conflict resolution mechanisms, as well as providing victims with legal and medical assistance.
In 2014, with our support, INAMA recruited and trained citizen journalists and local co-ordinators in five provinces across the country. The reporters map and monitor electoral violence and peace initiatives and foster dialogue between citizens, local government and others working to build a peaceful democracy in Burundi.
In a country short on infrastructure and information, prompt local action is essential to maintain the fragile peace process.