Great Lakes

Programme vision

To promote peace, stability and social cohesion through strengthened resilience capacities for peace and reconciliation and by engaging community members, in particular women and youth, by creating safe spaces for inclusive dialogue and promoting inclusive and participatory governance.


The Great Lakes region has experienced recurrent conflicts. Many of the conflicts are deeply interconnected because of significant shared historical and social realities. Young people have been exposed to direct violence, but also have faced intergenerational transmission of trauma, lack of schooling opportunities, as well as a lack of jobs and livelihood options.  

Interpeace’s Cross-Border Dialogue for Peace and Youth Empowerment supports youth in harnessing and developing their leadership potential, capacities, and contributions to peacebuilding processes in the region while also reinforcing cross-border interlinkages among young people and between them and political and private-sector authorities. The programme promotes youth leadership by strengthening young people’s capacity through training and mentorship, supporting youth peacebuilding initiatives, and creating opportunities for them to engage decision-makers and play a catalytic role in cross-border peacebuilding. 

Interpeace, in partnership with the Refugee Law Project, Centre for Conflict Alert and Prevention, Never Again Rwanda, Action pour la Paix et la Concorde and the Pole Institute, trains young innovators aged 18 to 30 to take part in governance, peacebuilding and development processes in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda. The young innovators, both men and women, are selected on their experience and commitment to launching positive peacebuilding initiatives in their communities and the wider region. The programme provides them with the tools and guidance to channel their creativity and translate innovative ideas into actionable projects. 

The journey begins with the first face-to-face session, where participants come together to acquire the essential general and technical skills needed to implement youth-led peace initiatives. The second face-to-face session involves fine-tuning the development of the initiative and drawing up strategic plans for the pilot projects. The partner organisations advise, support and refine the initiatives until they are ready for implementation. Each mentoring session builds on the progress made in previous sessions. The programme culminates in the third and final face-to-face training with the validation and funding of the young innovators' projects. 

In early August 2023, young innovators from the Great Lakes region were in Kigali (Rwanda), for a face-to-face mentorship training session. The innovators presented ideas to diverse stakeholders, including representatives from the partnering organisations, seeking grants to support their advocacy and social-cohesion projects. This third face-to-face session also served as a platform for imparting vital skills such as trauma healing, community engagement, gender and conflict sensitivity in project management, and critical thinking. These skills will help the participants better implement and scale up their initiatives. The Great Lakes programme is a testament to the resilience, innovation and unwavering dedication of young people in the four countries to successfully transform their communities.