Reducing the Potential for Conflict in Two Regions of Burundi by Harnessing the Energies of Youth to Act for Peace and Social Cohesion
The goal of this project was to mitigate the potential for conflict in two regions of Burundi in the Province of Kirundo and the Province of Muyinga by building youth’s self-reliance and enhancing their employability profiles using a sustainable intervention for community stabilization as an alternative to violence and conflict, as well as providing vocational trainings complemented with literacy classes to vulnerable youth. The project offered quality and varied components to increase community interaction, and build bridges across traditional divides such as age, gender, political affiliation and ethnicity, to mitigate conflict through community led peace building activities designed and implemented by the youth. The project aimed to create a positive and lasting impact on attitude/action to resolve the cycles of poverty and violence.
This project, implemented between April 2017 and March 2018, was funded by the German Federal Foreign Office, S03 Division and implemented by RET in Burundi.
Higher Education DAFI Scholarships: – 2008 – 2020
The Albert Einstein German Academic Refugee Initiative (DAFI) is managed at the global level by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on behalf of the Government of Germany and implemented by RET in Burundi and Chad.
The DAFI program aims at providing higher education scholarships for refugees and returnees living in crisis-affected areas to fulfill their dream of tertiary education.
Building the capacity of refugees and returnees through quality tertiary education and developing competent human resources will pave the way for income generation prospect for their entire families and lead to a better prosperous future. To date, RET was able to impact positively the lives of more than 429 refugee and returnee students to pursue their tertiary education in Burundi (2008-To date) & Chad (2012-2018).
DAFI in Burundi: A sparkle of hope in camps.
RET has been implementing the DAFI program in Burundi since 2008. During this period 250 students including 30.4% women and 69.6% men, 38% of whom are returnees and 62% of refugees have benefited from the scholarship program.
The educational programs implemented in the refugee camps in Burundi are focused on primary education, and refugees or returnees aiming to pursue secondary and tertiary levels are faced with a lack of educational opportunities adapted to their needs and/or age and more importantly a lack of financial support to access university training and skills to become self-reliant individuals and responsible citizens. The possibility offered by the Albert Einstein German Academic Initiative for Refugees (DAFI) scholarship program in Burundi represents an opportunity to support young Congolese refugees living in camps (Kinama, Musasa, Bwagiriza and Kavumu), in urban areas (Bujumbura and Rumonge) as well as returnees in their higher education pursue through professional qualification oriented towards gainful employment and prosperous future for their communities.
The Integration Camp 2020.
Beginning of 2020, RET in Burundi organized an integration camp for the new DAFI scholars in Bujumbura. The camp was organized in order to develop good academic practices and facilitate community integration of 40 new students selected in December 2019 for the current academic year. Thirty-two refugees and eight returnees joined the camp to meet representatives from the local universities and be informed about the various fields of study in the different universities. During the initiation camp, the scholars participated in multi-disciplinary training modules (presentations, application exercising and role play) focusing on: Social Integration, Financial Education, University Integration, and Leadership skills. The scholars are briefed about the academic environment, the Integration process and the importance of determination to succeeding. In addition to budget management, credits and saving. After going through the extensive trainings, the participants worked closely with university representatives, present in the camp to identify their relevant skills and the different disciplines offered by the universities.
Capacity- building, internship and entrepreneurship.
During their academic tertiary education, RET supports the scholars with various extra-curricular training courses to strengthen their life and professional skills, in addition to facilitating practical internships in accordance with their academic professional outlooks. In 2017, eight scholars were certified as trainers in financial education. In 2018, 2019 and 2020, RET also organized training and / or exchange sessions on financial education, life skills, climate change, leadership as well as entrepreneurship. These sessions reached 154 DAFI students (67 in 2018, 87 in 2019). In addition, an integration camp was organized in January 2020 by RET to facilitate the integration of 40 new DAFI students selected in December 2019 to start their university studies in January 2020.
RET has initiated since 2015 an entrepreneurship training program for DAFI scholars aimed at equipping them with the relevant skills to create employment and income-generating activities (AGRs), laterally, supporting them to launch their personal, business plans at the end of their academic studies and provide them with access to start-up costs. RET launched a competition for entrepreneurial micro-projects of DAFI finalist students with the aim of facilitating their transition to professional life and their socio-economic integration. Four (4) micro-projects were selected from seven (7) to benefit from this financial support. The carriers of these microprojects have been assigned a Coach by RET for training on the development of a Business Plan and for technical support throughout the execution of their microprojects. They then received financial support from RET in terms of microcredits through DIFO (Microfinance Institution identified by RET to financially support the projects of DAFI students).
RET also encourages DAFI students to participate in the development of their communities through community focused and youth-led activities (awareness-raising on behavior change, environmental protection, assistance to people with specific needs, etc.). In this context, 4 Associations have emerged: AFPD in 2017 (Association of fruits of the DAFI program), CubeMedia in 2017, ABAFEV in 2018 (Association for the good future of vulnerable women and children), PAXED in 2018 ( Action for Peace, the Environment and Sustainable Development) and the DAFI Club in 2019.
DAFI scholars have already made an impact in the life of their communities through the activities carried out by their associations. As an illustration, 20 young Burundian returnees benefited from a training workshop on life skills organized by the AFPD Association; the CubeMedia company has sensitized more than 300 young people (refugees and Burundians) on new information and communication technologies. They have also created a mobile application “GENIUS” application, as an online encyclopedia to help young people with their studies and research in the field of science. More than 1’500 young people were trained on the importance of protecting the environment and on peaceful coexistence organized by the PAXED association.
The DAFI scholarship program brings a durable solution and a new socio-economic prospect to young Congolese refugees and young Burundian returnees. The scholars will not only constitute successful models to follow for their peers, but as demonstrated they will create a lasting positive change in their respective communities leading to greater peace and stability.