Programme vision

A Burundi where all citizens contribute to sustaining peace and development.


In Burundi, violent cycles have had lasting negative effects on Burundians’ well-being and mental health. Youth, who make up 65% of the population, suffer from intergenerational transmission of trauma, lack of educational opportunities, and lack of jobs and livelihood options.

Interpeace’s programme in Burundi aims to enhancing resilience for peace through contributing to reconciliation and more accountable and inclusive governance that addresses local and national priorities for peace and development. Interpeace’s current work in Burundi comprises three complementary engagements:

  1. employing awareness-raising, training, advocacy, dialogue and livelihood approaches, fostering collaboration between citizens and decision-makers, empowering youth politically and economically, and promoting increased women’s participation in governance
  2. working to increase psychosocial well-being, agency and self-efficacy in trauma-affected communities through sociotherapy, capacity-building and support for inclusive peacebuilding and livelihood initiatives
  3. supporting internal mediators in Burundi at local and national levels to address and resolve conflicts in their communities, emphasising women’s and youth engagement in conflict resolution processes.

Personal journey

The lack of social cohesion in Burundi is evident even in universities, where political and ethnic intolerance can lead to violence. In the Integrated Polytechnic University of Cibitoke, located in western Burundi on the border with Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, mutual assistance is confined to students of the same ethnicities, political affiliations and originating from the same commune and province. To prevent conflicts within the institution, the university’s legal representative decided to include a clause in the internal regulations stating that the campus is a non-political and non-religious space. However, the balance remains fragile, as these young individuals are affiliated and active in different political parties outside the academic environment. Their often challenging economic situations also makes them more susceptible to manipulation by political actors seeking to incite violence.

In this context, Charles Ndayisenga, a student at this university, has created a unifying fund for mutual aid and social cohesion. This initiative consists of 46 classmates from different ethnicities and political affiliations. “No development is possible without unity or solidarity,” Charles tells his peers. “The social fund will not only promote cohesion but could also help solve persistent issues such as precarious living conditions and insufficient means to successfully pursue our academic paths and personal goals, as it could even evolve into a co-operative or microfinance,” he explains. Before the fund was established, students did not communicate their daily personal challenges, each solving their problems in isolation. Thanks to the fund, issues are now shared and member students receive assistance.

Support for this change was facilitated by training on inclusive governance provided by Initiative of Change Burundi as part of Interpeace’s Synergies for Peace III project. Before this, Charles Ndayisenga had attempted to create a mutual-aid social fund in his class but had failed to convince his classmates to join. He explains that the training allowed him to acquire new knowledge about the qualities of a good leader and to become more convincing.

The general delegate of the institution believes that this initiative is a model to be replicated in other classes at the university. According to him, such initiatives prevent electoral violence within the university: “You know, as the election period approaches, young people are often manipulated and divided. Having something of common interest like this fund, now it will be difficult for anyone who wants to divide them because they will already find them united.” Charles Ndayisenga’s initiative could play an important role in preventing violence and strengthening social cohesion within the University of Cibitoke on the eve of the 2025 elections. It also promotes the economic empowerment of youth, laying two fundamental stones for the development of Burundi. ext. Double-click this text to edit it.