Center for International Stabilization & Recovery

CISR envisions a world where people can build peaceful and prosperous futures free from the repercussions of conflict and disaster.

We help communities affected by conflict and trauma through innovative and reliable research, training, information exchange, and direct services such as:

Mine Risk Education
Peer Support
Management Training
Scientific Research
Who I Follow
Posts tagged "burundi"

In a panel discussion on the long-lasting psychosocial effects of conflict that remain long after peace is declared, local trauma specialists and a genocide survivor from Burundi will share their experiences, featuring the Director of Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience at Eastern Mennonite University, Elaine Zook Barge, CISR Trauma Rehabilitation Specialist Cameron Macauley, survivor Jean Claude Nkundwa and James Madison University's Dr. Anne Stewart.

April 2 | 7-8:30 p.m. | ISAT 159 | Light refreshments to follow


On November 17, CISR’s Trauma Rehabilitation Specialist was invited to present the findings of a peer-support study at Our Mother of Sorrows Catholic Church in Tucson, AZ.
The occasion was the opening of the U.S. office of CEDAC (the French acronym for the Training Center for the Development of Ex-Combatants), a Burundian NGO that helps former soldiers and victims of war-related violence. The U.S. office in Tucson will raise funds to support CEDAC’s activities in Burundi.
Since 2005 CEDAC has provided services, including the collection of small arms/light weapons, in Muramvya in north-central Burundi. In 2012 CEDAC established a peer-support program with the help of CISR and Action on Armed Violence (AOAV), a London-based nongovernmental organization.
CISR just finished analyzing data gathered in a survey of people who received CEDAC’s peer-support services and compared it to a control group. Both groups were surveyed in July of 2012 and then again one year later, after half of them had received 12 months of peer support. The results show conclusively that peer support improves mental health: Using a psychometric test created by the World Health Organization, 79 percent of those who received peer support were “recovering” as opposed to only 57 percent of the control group. The full results of the study will be published sometime next year.
“We are pleased that CISR is able to present these positive results at the inauguration of our U.S. office,” said Eric Niragira, CEDAC’s President and co-founder. “We hope that people who hear this presentation will be inspired to support CEDAC with donations.”
“There is a large and very generous Burundian refugee community in Tucson,” explained Eduard Hakizimana, the director of CEDAC’s U.S. office. “Most of them arrived here having lost everything. Now they own homes and businesses, and they are interested in giving back.”

Since independence in 1962, Burundi has been plagued by ethnic tensions between the dominant Tutsi minority and the Hutu majority.1 The most recent eruption of violence in 1993 led to the deaths of an estimated 300,000 people. A long and painful transition to peace thereafter culminated in the first democratic elections in 2005, and the election of Pierre Nkurunziza as President. At the end of 2006 he signed a ceasefire with the rebel FNL and, in 2009, civil war was officially declared to be ended. Nonetheless, especially since the 2010 elections, political tensions have remained high between the CNDD, which controls the government, and opposition parties.

Founded in 2005 in Bujumbura, CEDAC is a local and apolitical non-profit organisation.2 Its founding president, Eric Niragira, was 14 years old in 1993: he lived through the conflict, was forced to support the rebellion and participated in military and political activities. When he returned to school in 1996, he found it a painful experience:

‘On a daily basis, the army would gather fellow Tutsi students to participate in the killing of civilians who lived in the villages surrounding our lycee. When these students would return, the Hutu students were forced to wash their clothing and knives that were full of blood. We did this out of fear of being killed if we refused.’3

Read more …

Editor’s note: The names of Burundi National Defense Force soldiers are intentionally omitted by request of the Burundi government officials.


A Burundi National Defense Force soldier and U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Mark Balliet, an explosive ordnance disposal technician with Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, discuss how to rig simulated unexploded ordnance to a pulley system during a humanitarian mine action exercise in Bujumbura, Burundi, Aug. 21, 2013. EOD technicians use the pulley system to safely remove ordnance away from areas with people. The CJTF-HOA and Burundian service members shared best practices during the three-week exercise to improve knowledge of unexploded ordnance disposal techniques. The exercise supports CJTF-HOA’s mission to strengthen security in East Africa through military-to-military engagement with partner nations. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Tom Ouellette/Released)

BUJUMBURA, Burundi — U.S. Navy explosive ordnance disposal technicians from Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa and Burundi National Defense Force combat engineers conducted a humanitarian mine action exercise in Bujumbura, Burundi, Aug. 5-23, 2013.

The exchange allowed the service members an opportunity to share best practices and gain a better understanding of how to conduct unexploded ordnance reconnaissance, basic demolition procedures, rigging for remote movement, and safe handling and storage procedures.


CISR Supports Expansion of Peer Support Activities to Burundi’s Capital

In April, CISR Peer Support Specialist Cameron Macauley returned to Burundi to assist in the training of new peer support workers for a program expansion into Bujumbura, Burundi’s capital. CISR’s Burundian partner since 2010, CEDAC (Center for the Education and Development for Ex-Combatants) operates a highly successful program for survivors of war-related violence in Muramvya, a community about 20 miles east of the capital. CEDAC’s peer-support workers provide counseling and psychosocial support to survivors who are recovering from traumatic experiences suffered during Burundi’s civil conflict, which ended in 2006.

With support from CISR, CEDAC implemented a new monitoring and evaluation system last June to assess the results of its work with 363 survivors. Preliminary data suggests that CEDAC’s services are overwhelmingly successful, with 99 percent of survivors reporting positive changes in their lives as a direct result of peer support.

With generous assistance from Action on Armed Violence (AOAV), a London-based nongovernmental organization, CEDAC will begin providing services in Bujumbura, where thousands of war survivors still need assistance. This most recent training prepared 30 women with disabilities to offer peer support in the capital. CEDAC’s supervisors were also trained to respond to issues related to disability, such as discrimination, domestic violence, and lack of access to schools, clinics and government buildings. Participants also learned how to help survivors overcome low self-esteem and how to build self-confidence.

“With help from CISR and AOAV we hope to eventually become a national organization,” said Eric Niragira, CEDAC’s executive director. “We look forward to the day when all war survivors can participate fully in Burundian society.”


~ Cameron Macauley, CISR Peer Support and Trauma Rehabilitation Specialist

Burundi has secured more than $2 billion (1.5 billion euros) in aid from international donors after requesting help toward financing development programmes over the next four years, the United Nations said on Tuesday.

The country had asked for $1.1 billion at a two-day donor conference, “but we ended up with more than $2 billion registered commitments at the conference,” Pamphile Muderega of the National Aid Coordination Committee said in a statement released by the UN’s development agency.

"This represents a doubling of our already optimistic expectations."

Read more…

Supervision of Peer Support Program for Burundi War Survivors Reveals Early Benefits

During the first week of October, CISR Peer Support Specialist Cameron Macauley visited Burundi to supervise the peer support program operated in conjunction with Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) and the Center for Development of Ex-Combatants (CEDAC). The trip included individual visits to war survivors receiving peer support services and a first look at a survey of 756 residents of communities in Muramvya, a province in northwest Burundi.

When the survey data is analyzed, it will provide a snapshot of mental health in this population, which was severely affected by war-related violence during the 15-year conflict. Survivors describe mass executions, rape, torture and forced conscription. Very little has been done to help survivors deal with their psychological trauma.

The peer support program consists of home visits by 30 peer support workers and has been in operation since June 2012. Survivors give enthusiastically positive opinions of the services they received. “No one showed much interest in my problems until the peer support worker began to visit me,” said Joseph Ntawanka, a 70-year-old who was the lone survivor of a massacre in which 32 people died. “Now I have help in solving my problems, and I am thinking in new ways about the past. I have hope that the future will be better.”

“I have been lonely and sad since I lost my arm during the violence that devastated my community,” said Languide Nsabiyumva. “A woman with one arm is nobody—people act as if she doesn’t exist. But my peer support worker cares about me, wants me to feel better. She has made me think about myself differently. When I talk to her I feel as if my life has meaning once again.”

For peer support workers the days are long and strenuous: Many homes are remote and accessible only on foot. However, the rewards of helping others make every step worthwhile. “Even when I’m not working, I think about the people that I’m trying to help,” said Candide Nsabiyumva. “Knowing that I can make a difference in their lives is an inspiration for me.”

Monitoring and evaluation data collected by CEDAC on hundreds of survivors will be analyzed during the next few months and used to improve program activities during 2013. “Each day brings new refinements to this program,” says CEDAC Director Eric Niragira. “We look forward to expanding into new communities and eventually helping the entire nation. We are assisting each other to recover from Burundi’s violent past.”

~ Cameron Macauley, CISR Peer Support Specialist

CISR Implements Monitoring and Evaluation for Peer Support in Burundi

In partnership with the British NGO Action on Armed Violence (AOAV), CISR staff created a system to monitor and evaluate the impact of a psychosocial support program for victims of armed violence in Burundi. The program, operated by the Center for Development for Ex-Combatants (CEDAC), a Burundian NGO, has been in operation since 2009 but has recently received significant funding which will allow it to enlarge its administration and implement a new system for monitoring and evaluation.

Starting with a baseline survey of the target population, data is collected by the peer support workers (PSWs) who are trained in counseling but who also have a broad impact on community development. CEDAC now has four community animators and eight supervisors who will oversee the collection of information and data from the program’s beneficiaries. This will permit fine-tuning of the program by assessing the impact of peer support activities, such as peer support groups, income-generation, vocational training and peer counseling.

In August, CISR completed a training program for CEDAC’s program supervisors on how to collect, analyze and interpret data they receive from the PSWs.

“We have already started to see many positive outcomes from our psychosocial interventions,” said Eric Niragira, CEDAC’s president and CEO. “Victims of armed violence who believed that they would never recover from their experiences are now regaining their confidence and adopting a positive outlook on life. Information from the field gives us a clear view of what works and how to improve our program.”

In Burundi, CISR trains women with disabilities about peer support

During the first week of June, CISR conducted a workshop for 25 women with disabilities in Bujumbura, Burundi in partnership with the Burundian nongovernmental organization Centre d’Encadrement et de Développement des Anciens Combattants (CEDAC) and the British NGO Action on Armed Violence (AOAV). CISR Trauma Rehabilitation Specialist Cameron Macauley trained the women on peer support’s concepts and basic activities, focusing on the needs and challenges in the lives of disabled women in Burundi. AOAV is also providing training on the rights of people with disabilities.

Approximately 15 percent of the Burundi population is disabled, and women in this group often do not have access to education. Only about 25 percent of disabled Burundian women can read and write.

The trainees were women from several communities in which CEDAC offers services. Among other disabilities, women in the group had upper and lower-limb amputations, paraplegia and hemiplegia. Also included were five women who work with local NGOs that provide services to women with disabilities.

“This training has been very useful in showing us how to help each other,” said Ndagijimana Gloriose of Muramvya Commune. “We are usually considered to be the beneficiaries of services, but now we can provide support for each other. Thanks to CISR and CEDAC for giving us new skills.”

Electronic translation: 

The Rumonge nature reserve is still one step from being free of anti-personnel mines and other explosive devices laid during the period of the war. The surrounding population said that it is limited in its movements.

"The women and children will not seek wood or picking mushrooms in this reserve for fear fear of stepping on a mine," reflects Agnès Ndorimana, a woman who lives in Muhanda Hill in the area of Buruhukiro in Rumonge commune. It indicates that these mines have already injured victims and disabled some persons. According to local administrative sources, the latest victim is a child of 16 years who stepped on a mine and died where he collected firewood in this reserve.

They note that these mines are a threat to the physical safety of the population. They ask that this nature reserve quickly remove these mines and other UXO. Jules Manirakiza Gitwe Hill, border of this reserve, indicates that these anti-personnel mines and other explosive devices were installed during the war by the FAB and other armed guerrillas. These deadly devices, he says, were mostly laid under the high-voltage power lines and trails to destroy the enemy. “These devices still exist on this reserve and the population is ready to collaborate with the technical demining team,” he said. He says also that these weapons were mostly used in the war, as provided in the Ottawa Convention.

"Left to themselves"

Simbagije is a resident of the Hill Karagara in Rumonge commune. He is disabled since 1999. While I got about 7 p.m., he says, I stepped on a mine that was used on the road. He says that he had not been informed. “Today, my family became destitute and all the victims are left to themselves, because they enjoy no support,” he said. He asked for skills to conduct mine clearance services because these mines pose a threat to the physical safety of population.