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Reconciliation: An Unexpected Impact of Peer Support Work to Reduce Violence within Communities

Peer to peer support along with micro credit through SILC programs (Savings and Internal Loan Communities) is a project which CEDAC along with AOAV (Action on Armed Violence) and AEOEP (Framing Association for young Orphans and Peace Education) is currently working with. The participants consist of young people from different political parties, ex-combatants, and other vulnerable categories of people, such as youth, head of families, refugees, IDPs (Internally Displaced People), and Twa. All who together are working towards reducing and preventing violence within the Burundian community. Reconciliation is an important impact of the project, which could be seen through a field visit to Bujumbura rural, where testimonies were told and young people pardoned each other due to the peer to peer support work. The peer to peer support project is supported by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and has been active since July, 2014. CEDAC has put together a team of peer support workers, who are sharing the same background as the participants.

Read more: Reconciliation: An Unexpected Impact of Peer Support Work to Reduce Violence within Communities

Advocating The United Nations Convention On The Rights Of Persons With Disabilities

In July 2013, in conjunction with Action On Armed Violence (AOAV) a programme of advocacy was conceived at CEDAC. The goal was to raise awareness for those living with disability – particularly women – and to pressure the government of Burundi to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities or the CRPD. The implementation phases begun in November 2013 and has only just concluded as April 2014 nears its end. The activities experienced a 16 day crescendo between 25 November and 10 December, coinciding with the International Day of People with Disabilities. It was during this period that CEDAC and AOAV, supported by AusAID, held a period of activism and awareness including an event on 8 December to celebrate the lives of people with disabilities and those living with HIV/AIDS. 

The Programme itself was officially concluded in April with a round table discussion here in Bujumbura, Burundi with all parties happy with the outcome. The federal government has agreed to the need to ratify the CRPD, it has passed both houses of parliament and is simply awaiting the President’s signature. However, the project will continue into the future because there is still a need for community awareness and sensitisation to occur ensuring that people – and importantly women – living with disability enjoy the same rights and freedoms that are afforded to able bodied people.

Read more: Advocating The United Nations Convention On The Rights Of Persons With Disabilities

The Intamenwa or Indivisibles! An Event to Mobilise Youth for Peaceful Elections in 2015

 Under the support of USAID, through Search for Common Ground Burundi (SFCG), CEDAC held an event in the course of the Intamenwa Project in Bubanza Province. The event began with a march through the city of Bubanza where between 4,000 and 5,000 people, predominantly youth, showed their support for the need for peaceful dialogue and an election free from violence. The march wound its way through the city and eventually came to a conclusion at the stadium of Bubanza where they were met with a warm welcome and events for the afternoon.

The event was a huge success, with welcoming speeches and shows of support for the programme from Mr Isaac Ndayisenga, General Director of the Interior Ministry and by Mr Anselme Nyandwi, the Governor of Bubanza who also showed his solidarity for the event. Mr Eric Niragira from CEDAC and Ms Floride Ahitungiye, the representative from SFCG explained the importance of the programme as a vehicle for developing platforms for youth groups to freely express their ideas without the fear of politically motivated and often violent reprisals.

Read more: The Intamenwa or Indivisibles! An Event to Mobilise Youth for Peaceful Elections in 2015

Flooding in Northern Bujumbura has Affected Many: CEDAC Investigates

The night of Sunday, 9 February 2014, was a beautiful warm evening in Bujumbura until about 8pm when a savage storm blew in. The storm started with thunder and lightning, then the rains began. It rained very heavily and as time went on it began to flood northern parts of Bujumbura, including Kamenge, Kinama, Buterere and Ngagara. The worst affected areas are Kamenge, Kinama and Buterere where there was extensive damage to property and many lives lost.

In these regions the Centre for Training and Development for Ex-combatants (CEDAC) operates a program of psychosocial support network for women living with disabilities and female survivors affected by war. The psychosocial support programmes run by CEDAC leads to psychosocial assistance in either an individual or group setting around income generating activities. Today CEDAC has travelled out to meet with both peer-to-peer support workers and beneficiaries of the programme to evaluate the impact that the storm and subsequent flooding had.

Upon arrival in Kamenge, we were met by road workers and locals repairing the damage around the market area. The whole area was affected by the storm which severely damaged the market, creating a flood that washed away many of the houses in the surrounding area.

Read more: Flooding in Northern Bujumbura has Affected Many: CEDAC Investigates

A Celebration in Support of Those Living with Disabilities or HIV/AIDS

On 8 December, 2013 CEDAC organized in conjunction with Action On Armed Violence (AOAV), a combined celebration for the international events dedicated to people with disabilities and those living with HIV/AIDS. This celebration took place in Rutegama Commune, Muramvya Province. This is one of the many provinces in which CEDAC has implemented projects designed to assist in the psychosocial support for women living with disabilities caused by the civil war.

This event was organized to highlight the plight of those living with disabilities, and to bring this issue to the attention of the national government. The government of the Republic of Burundi, although having signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has yet to ratify the convention and thus bring it into law.

Read more: A Celebration in Support of Those Living with Disabilities or HIV/AIDS

Advocacy for the Recognition of Disabled Women's Rights

After over a decade of violent civil conflict, Burundi is now in the post-conflict phase, from a humanitarian emergency to the difficulties of sustainable development. It is necessary to take into account the rights of women living with disabilities. These women are indeed still stigmatized, discriminated against and deprived of their basic rights as human beings. They can all too easily become prey to economic and social problems, slowing not only their own personnel development, but also that of their communities.

On 26 April 2007, Burundi committed to the rights of disabled people by signing the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Since then, six years have passed without any further action been taken. This important commitment to protecting the rights of not only women, but anyone living with disabilities has not been presented to members of parliament for approval; a necessary step for ratification and thus passing into law. Specifically, the ratification of the CRPD will restore much needed  human rights to those living with disability such as access to education and care, freedom of movement and the participation in social and political life.

Read more: Advocacy for the Recognition of Disabled Women's Rights

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