Healing and socio-economic growth among women in Burundi through accelerated collaboration among local stakeholders
Instigating and promoting a behavioural change in violent suburbs of Bujumbura that has a positive impact on the life of women and girls.
Extreme poverty drives girls into transactional sex and unmarried motherhood. Early and unwanted pregnancy, motherhood and unsafe abortion among adolescents and young women have serious social, health and economic repercussions for both mother and child, as well as the community as a whole.
Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)
Our idea is to understand, appreciate and apply local culture to help rebuild trust and end poverty and violence. We have learned how the combination of a) a deep insight into cultural norms, values and beliefs and b) a shared understanding of how warfare and poverty have an impact on the quality of life is the starting point for change. We address collective trauma by activating people and bringing new dynamism to frozen communities – then people heal social bonds by working on a shared future. We work exclusively with local partners (here, Action de la Femme pour le Bien- Etre de la Famille «AFBEF-KIREMESHA») with whom we construct new ways of organizing people, away from old-fashioned hierarchical institutions towards modern ‘unmanaged cooperative forms of collaboration’. The proposed approach builds on existing structures, practices, traditions and protection mechanisms within the social cultural context. We first conduct extensive mapping exercises per neighbourhood together with the population in order to identify most pressing local needs and discover potential resources. At the same time we identify the most competent and daring agents of change – with a specific focus on young women. We build their capacity based on needs and invite them to become part of a digital platform where they can share experiences, ask for support and access knowledge on line. Together with these local agents of change we create networks per neighbourhood with the objective to restore trust, so that old relationships can be rediscovered, new ones are forged, and communities are mobilized to save money and address their major problems together. Adolescents and young women at risk to be influenced by negative behavioural patterns will be identified through these networks and invited to participate in sessions that focus on a combination of healing, social and economic inclusion. As healthy relationships between people grow, the likelihood of violence between them declines.
Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)
Our most direct and first beneficiaries are women and girls who live in 6 violent neighbourhoods of Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi. The problems in these parts of the city are salient as a result of extreme poverty and miserable living conditions. The most affected are women and girls who often because they are in charge of their households, are compelled to find all kind of ways to survive. This includes transactional sex which seriously exposes them to HIV/AIDS infection; at least 3 out of 5 households have a family member that is HIV-positive. The use of modern effective contraceptive among adolescents is still low as a result of limited knowledge, economic means and persisting social, cultural and religious norms and beliefs that disapprove of contraceptive use. The situation has worsened since the elections of 2015, when more military and police were deployed to these neighbourhoods; sexual violence is increasing in these areas.
We start up dialogues at neighbourhood and community levels. We use specific communication skills and simple therapeutic techniques that make it possible for people to reflect upon their own situation and that lead to increased feelings of safety and resilience. Gradually people are invited to re-connect with their family members and peers, and once they have gained enough trust in each other, we explore together what joint efforts can be undertaken to solve practical problems as poverty etc.
How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)
Actions that aim to restore peace and increase prosperity are often not cost effective or sustainable. Important reason is the lack of specific and local knowledge (protracted conflicts between tribes, families, power inequalities etc.) which is usually unique to each community. Other reason is the lack of financial independency to continue with efforts after the end of a project. We overcome these challenges by conducting extensive mapping exercises per target area that will result in measurable outcomes and a clear set of tailor-made activities per network according to needs and priorities that are defined by the population itself. By inviting the members of these networks to start up collective savings once basic trust has been restored, we create financial independency. And by inviting people to become a member of a digital platform, members will be able to share knowledge, ideas and products with a widening group of stakeholders as time evolves.
Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)
Pilot: I have started to implement the idea as a whole with a first set of real users.
Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)
The core work of C4C is to connect and bridge: international expertise to local application; collective trauma to productive collaboration; research to implementation, local knowledge to international recognition , and relief to development.
The aim of the mapping exercises is to identify, describe and analyse the individual and collective mechanisms (which can differ from community to community) that exist in a community. It highlights mechanisms that may help or hinder the development of actions in a next phase. The mapping exercises are also a basic intervention in itself; discovering and prioritising together with the population has the potential to revitalise interpersonal connectedness that has been affected by war or disaster
During the election period of the president in 2015, many people left the country based on rumours that were circulating. We started a process of reconciliation and trust building by creating groups of some 50 families. Our aim was to prevent people from fleeing the country while leave all their belongings behind them without knowing what life would be at the other side of the border. These people stayed and made new plans together which increased their resilience to face difficulties.
Burundian man shows his rooster bought with the money of a collective saving group. The concept of ‘solidarity boxes’ is very successful in Burundi; a collective of community members make a commitment to regularly contribute to a money box and periodically decide on mutually beneficial ways to spend it. This system is no new phenomenon in Burundi and can be relatively easily applied, provided certain criteria (division of responsibilities, a bottom-up approach) are clearly defined and respected.
Organization Filing Status
Yes, we are a registered non-profit.
In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.
Since the outbreak of civil conflict in 2015 the human rights situation in Burundi has been volatile and humanitarian and socio-economic indicators are worsening. Refugees fleeing Burundi have reported human rights abuses, fear of persecution, and sexual and gender-based violence as the reasons for their flight (UNHCR 2017). The political and economic situation remains fragile with no signs of improving in 2018 or beyond. The international community abandoned efforts to reverse the situation.
Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).
Peace in these neighbourhoods of Bujumbura has been seriously impacted by the violence that shook the country, both in the 90s and quite recently during the 2015 electoral period, and prosperity is continuously impacted by ongoing political turmoil, instability and bad governance. Especially at risk are the impoverished youth in precisely our target areas. Young boys run the risk of being influenced by political hate speech and false promises to joining the youth militia, while girls are tempted to engage in risky sexual behaviour for monetary gain. This increases the risk of violence, and in the case of girls and young women, early pregnancy which may negatively impact health and is a common cause of school dropout. Adolescent motherhood also reinforces social and economic problems. Improving both peace and prosperity in these high risk target areas is necessary to break vicious circles of poverty, social and financial exclusion and violence.
Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)
Our partner will be a national organization « Action de la Femme pour le Bien- Etre de la Famille »( AFBEF-KIREMESHA) that has been established by four Burundian women that are familiar with the local context in these neighbourhoods. By working directly with this partner organization it will be relatively easy to identify potential agents of change; people that live and work in these neighbourhoods and who want to become their own agents of change. We will build the capacity of these local actors according to needs and priorities, enabling them to become the leaders of networks of some 50 households (G50). This methodology has been tested through different other projects and implemented by the co-founder of C4C in some rural areas of Burundi between 2014 and 2017. We refer hereby to « Etude d’évaluation de la mise en œuvre d`un système d`inclusion financière et de l`approche G50 (Bujumbura, Juin 2016) ».
Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)
Our local partner is familiar with the local context and has an extensive network of people, including youth and women, who live and are active in the target areas. They also have experience with the proposed methodology while implementing specific projects in different provinces of Burundi. This point of departure will facilitate our efforts to build trust and confidence among stakeholders, essential prerequisites to make efforts feasible, cost effective and sustainable.
Some 300.000 people that live in six (6) peripheral neighbourhoods of Bujumbura, Burundi
How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)
24 months; our methodology is based on the core principle that communities need initial support with the specific aim to become independent of foreign aid after 24 months
Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)