Impact Assessment in Peacebuilding (I): Centre Ubuntu, Burundi
Impulse 05/2012 by Fr. Emmanuel Ntakarutimana, Centre Ubuntu*
The socio-political crisis that shook Burundi for the last five decades was the origin of many large-scale massacres, forced disappearances and rough executions in many corners of the country. The death of hundreds of thousands in the last 50 years of open or dormant conflicts have undoubtedly caused, amongst the population of Burundi a climate of mistrust, hatred, and exclusion between different identities of Burundians. The growing sociopolitical stabilization of the country needs a tremendous work of healing.
- Community ownership of processes: If change has to happen, it is crucial to have local people and communities own the processes and work with their stories. They are the best specialists of their life and community settings. This process may take time as facilitators have to negotiate with gatekeepers and have people negotiate solution to their problems through an appropriate forum. In wounded communities, the pace may be very slow.
- Fragile post-conflicts renaissance: We experience the difficulty to set up activities having in mind outcomes, medium and long term impact in a fragile political set up that has to deal with new arrangements, especially from Transitional Justice mechanisms generating hopes and fear at the same time.
- From activities and programs orientation to generating a culture: It is not easy to win a long-term engagement in promoting a culture of peace as peace-building does not work with a hit-and run approach. It is a process that requires creating structures and capacities for long term work with regular monitoring and evaluation to strengthen staff and all community stakeholders.
- Hardship in attribution of causality: The link between overall and intermediary results and between these and peace building dynamics is still weak. Attribution of causality is hard to define. The fruits of social peacebuilding may not be harvested for years while the yeast is working. The healing of communities while developing a renewed leadership and setting up a new sociopolitical setup able to strengthen the social fabric requires complex undertaking not easy to coordinate.
Centre Ubuntu’s programs target to work with a range of people, including Hutu, Tutsi, Twa, returnees, IDPs, prisoners, former prisoners, demobilized combatants, child soldiers, victims and perpetrators of violence, and local populations. Centre Ubuntu requires that the heterogeneous groups that engage with it work as a community, which is an important strategy toward helping different peoples appreciate and understand the other. The centre communicates bunt values, promotes psychosocial community healing, networks with relevant stakeholders (such as other civil society organizations, government and community institutions, international donors, and research institutes), and thus create opportunities via social capital.
After the community mobilization phase, collective opinion was that building the local capacity of the communities was most important. Joint discussions brought out that more training in five specific areas was needed:
- Rebuilding the Value basis and engaging in lobbying and advocacy for vulnerable groups.
- Introduction to Trauma and trauma healing.
- Capacity building for Conflict Resolution.
- Promoting participative Leadership and good governance.
- Mapping local resources and developing partnerships for Development.
Centre Ubuntu socialization activities are still sporadic, haphazard and have not yet spawned that country-wide and requisite coordination to create a critical mass for tangible change at macro level to reach “peace writ large”. However, small scale grassroots interventions, like working with schools, prisons, IDPs, and returnees, is having a micro peacebuilding impact at the individual, personal level and slowly but surely is moving into sociopolitical sphere. Communication, truth, respect, trust, justice, networking and collaboration are pillars upon which an enduring peace can be established in post-conflict societies like Burundi. Getting approaches creating a critical mass for tangible change at macro level to reach “peace writ large” remains the main challenge that requires coordination country-wide.
Measuring and/or evaluating success in building peace is no easy matter. There is a need to set up indicators with community members of sustainable changes in attitudes, behavior, structures, and cultural conceptions. For the Centre Ubuntu Team and our psychosocial facilitators, there is a strong need for capacity building in planning, monitoring and evaluating in contexts of complexity and uncertainty, with possibility for a scenario methodology.
Fr. Emmanuel Ntakarutimana is director of the Centre Ubuntu in Bujumbura, which is working on community reconciliation at the grassroots level. He is currently president of the Independent National Commission on Human Rights in Burundi.
*Centre Ubuntu, founded by Dominican Friars in 2002, bases its peacebuilding work on six propositions:
- Peace emerges from the transformative change of critical mass of individuals.
- A sense of shared belonging and dialogue can lead groups to cease their engagement in violence.
- Media can serve to create awareness.
- Community self-help projects can assist in uniting different groups.
- Strengthening social capital infused with democratic concepts can foster collaboration and more effective peaceful communities.
- Mutual dialogue and encounter can help people understand each other.
Sylvester Bongani Maphosa: ‘Building Peace from Below: The Centre Ubuntu in Burundi’, Africa Peace and Conflict Journal, University of Peace, Volume 2, Number 2, 2009, p.59-60.