Context

More than two decades after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, Rwanda has made substantial progress in the social, economic and political realms. The country has developed a viable multiparty system, while the determined efforts of numerous state and civil society initiatives are gradually leading the country towards peaceful coexistence between individuals and diverse groups within the Rwandan nations. Despite these impressive gains, however, challenges to sustainable peace remain, most of them stemming from both the period before and after the Genocide.

The “Societal Healing and Participatory Governance” programme, implemented since 2015 by Interpeace and local partner Never Again Rwanda (NAR), has provided safe spaces for dialogue and healing,  developed Participatory Action Research (PAR) processes and advocated for increased citizens’ participation, supporting capacity building of local leaders in consultation processes and increasing youth capacities for critical thinking.



Goal

Our programme aims to contribute to the consolidation of a peaceful and inclusive Rwandan society, enabled to overcome the wounds of the past, peacefully manage conflicts and diversity, and empowered to influence policies that are responsive to citizen priorities. This vision is implemented through two axes: healing and participatory governance.



Supporting trauma healing processes

Trauma healing remains a pressing public health issue in Rwanda. NAR and Interpeace have contributed towards addressing this challenge by implementing a psychosocial support group therapy programme over a four-year period, fostering both individual healing and social cohesion. This initiative was carried out on the basis of a research study by NAR and Interpeace in 2015, which showed that many Rwandans still carry wounds from the Genocide. In some cases, the wounds have been passed down to successive generations which—although not directly impacted by the Genocide—must contribute to the nation’s recovery. After four years, the results of the psychosocial support group therapy are both encouraging and instructive. Participants have gradually become able to express themselves in a group setting, resulting in greater empathy and tolerance. Data from the programme shows that the group approach ha...

Promoting dialogue processes

The programme facilitates dialogue spaces in which community members can openly discuss sensitive topics, identify solutions and reach consensus on priorities for peace. The dialogue gives community members of diverse backgrounds an opportunity to regularly convene. The programme has led a number of youth groups that critically discussed issues of trust, identity and stereotyping, and the history of the 1994 Genocide. Through these engagements, members of the youth groups have developed an awareness of how these issues still affect relationships and can be a potential source of future violence and have started to take actions independently aimed at building trust. These actions include implementing peacebuilding activities in their communities and schools, as part of community exchanges, through various art forms, and by supporting genocide survivors.

Fostering participatory governance

The participatory governance aspect of the programme helps citizen groups to bring their priorities to the attention of policy- and decision-makers at the local, district and national levels. This makes it possible for decision-makers to consider citizen voices and priorities at critical stages of policy making, public programme development and assessment. Interpeace and Never Again Rwanda also work with constructive media, mostly through the use of community radio programmes. This helps facilitate communication between citizens and local decision-makers, in addition to serving as a bridge between these groups through objective reporting and providing dedicated spaces for dialogue. The programme has gained trust of authorities at the national and local level and has now partnered with public institutions to reinforce local authorities’ capacity to make existing consultation mechanisms more inclus...

Resources