AOAV began developing programmes in Burundi in 2011 with the aim of better understanding and addressing armed violence.
AOAV is working with the Burundi Armed Violence Observatory (BrAVO) to improve the understanding of armed violence incidents in Burundi. Through the BrAVO, AOAV is enhancing national capacities to collect, monitor and analyse armed violence data in coordination with government and civil society partners. The analysed data is used to inform evidence-based strategies to reduce and address armed violence.
AOAV is supporting survivors of armed violence with an innovative approach involving integrated psychosocial and socioeconomic support. This support is rooted in community mechanisms and driven by community members, which ensures that support systems remain in place long after AOAV is involved. This programme has been implemented in partnership with local communities, local organisations and international NGOs.
In order to reduce and prevent armed violence, AOAV works with individuals who are most vulnerable to engaging in violence. Vulnerable youth – primarily young men – who are unemployed and lack access to education, training and livelihood opportunities are the most common instigators of violence in Burundi. AOAV works with those who are most at risk of engaging in violence in order to address the factors driving violent behaviour. Through an integrated programme of peacebuilding mediation, psychosocial support and socioeconomic skills, AOAV aims to reduce violence and support participants to be peaceful and positive citizens in their communities.
AOAV is working with government and civil society partners to tackle illicit small arms and light weapons (SALW) in Burundi and has supported calls for Burundi to ratify the Arms Trade Treaty, which it signed in 2013. In early 2015, AOAV facilitated the development of a working group on illicit cross-border trafficking of SALW over the Burundi-DRC border. As the first action of the working group, AOAV led a border assessment of SALW in order to inform responsive measures to reduce trafficking.
AOAV is working with the Centre de Re-education et D’appareillage St Bernard in Makamba to support the provision of a new model of high-activity, low-cost prosthetics. Prosthetics are prohibitively expensive for Burundians, and many people with amputations either have ill-fitting, uncomfortable prosthetics, or make do with none at all. This innovative technology of prosthetics proposes a low-cost alternative that would enable more people in Burundi to afford high-activity prosthetics.
AOAV works with local partners to ensure ownership and sustainability of its armed violence reduction and prevention programming.
To monitor armed violence in Burundi and for SALW control, AOAV works with the National Commission on Small Arms and Light Weapons (CNAP) and other government and civil society stakeholders. AOAV also works with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to support the development of a comprehensive surveillance system for armed violence monitoring.
For its victim assistance and violence prevention programmes, AOAV works with the National Ex-Combatant and Victims’ Network (CEDAC) and the Center for International Recovery and Stabilization (CISR).
AOAV’s work in Burundi has been supported by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, AusAid, the Security Sector Development Programme (Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs), Bureau of Conflict Stabilization Operations (US Department of State), The Charitable Foundation and the UN Trust Facility Supporting Cooperation on Arms Regulation (UNSCAR).
Background – Burundi
Burundi is one of the poorest and least-developed countries in the world and remains severely affected by the 1993 civil war that lasted over a decade, destroying infrastructure, weakening institutions, diminishing the economy, and causing social division. Burundi is located in the instable Great Lakes Region and shares a porous border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
Despite the end of the civil war, armed violence continues to be an issue in Burundi. Challenges with the Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration process have left many ex-combatants marginalised from communities and lacking access to viable, peaceful livelihoods. Despite disarmament campaigns in 2009 and 2013-14 respectively, weapons proliferation continues to be an issue, worsened by illicit flow of arms across porous borders. Land scarcity, where 90% of the population relies on subsistence agriculture, creates tensions and sparks violent clashes. Poverty and unemployment are among the root causes of violence. Youth, who represent the majority of the population, lack employment options and in some cases resort to illicit livelihoods such as banditry and armed robberies. Poverty also makes youth vulnerable to manipulation by politicians. Gender-based violence and domestic violence are also widespread in Burundi.