TFF logoFORUMS Meeting Point

TFF Home | About us


Iraq Forum

Features by others

Links to all issues

New stuff

Other associate articles

Burundi Forum

Publications on-line

Paul McCartney

Nyt på nordisk

Jonathan Power

EU conflict-handling

The 100 best books

Annual Reports

TFF Associates


Reconciliation project

Øbergs Kalejdoskop

Support TFF on-line

Activities right now

Gandhi & India

Teaching & training

Oberg's photos

Support TFF off-line

PressInfos - Analyses

Macedonia Forum

Lærestof på dansk

TFF News Navigator


"Solidifying Peace in Burundi"

Project Report

September 2005 - June 1, 2006


© Jan Oberg TFF 2006

Members of the TFF Amahoro Coalition in Burundi, Sept 2005


Lund, Sweden - June 2, 2006

This is the report of the foundation's activities in Burundi on a one-year grant of Swedish kronor 304 000 or US$ 42 000 from Sweden's Folke Bernadotte Academy.

TFF and its partners in Burundi want to thank the Academy for its generous support.

The foundation's work in Burundi since 1999 has been financed by donations made to TFF by citizens around the world. We thank every one of them too.

TFF team members contributed to this report. You can read more about Burundi's peace process and why it deserves to be support by the international community here.


Jan Oberg, project responsible

TFF director



Activities and results up till June 2006

This report has two parts: A) Description of concrete activities, the project development and TFF's missions to Burundi, and B) Evaluation, summary and future activities.

The Amahoro Coalition is central in this report. It consist at the moment of the following 13 Burundian NGOs:

• African Public Radio - Radio Publique Africaine (RPA)

• Association des Femmes Juristes du Burundi (AFJ)

• Association Pour La Paix et les Droit de l'Homme (APDH)

• Compagnie des Apôtres de la Paix (CAP)

• Centre d'Alerte et de Prévention des Conflits (CENAP)

• Maison de la Presse du Burundi - House of the Press

• Observatoire de l'Action Gouvernementale (OAG)

• Trauma Healing and Reconciliation Services (THARS)

• Universite Lumiere de Bujumbura

• Ligue Burundaise des Droit de l'Homme - ITEKA

• Syndicat des Travailleurs de l'Enseignement du Burundi - The Teachers' Union of Burundi (STEB)

• Forum pour le Renforcement de la Societe Civile (FORSC) - with 60 member NGOs

• Genies en Herbes - Youth organization, leadership and excellence.

Their common project is to establish the Amahoro Open Centre which is described in details at:





Mission 1 - October 14-24, 2005

36 meetings with members of the Amahoro Coalition, a variety of staff of the UN mission (ONUB) including Head of Mission, Mme MacAskie, ambassadors and others from potential donor countries, with various individuals and intellectuals in the country, a presidential adviser, other international NGOs.

The main purpose was to move forward the single project chosen by the Coalition, i.e. the establishment of the Amahoro Open Centre in Bujumbura. This was done by working closely with the Coalition members and by presenting the project and build goodwill for it with everybody else.

The project description and a series of ideas were discussed and several revisions made during the days, ending with a meeting before departure with the Coalition members at which the project was endorsed by all (minutes available upon request).

It goes without saying that our Coalition members and others expressed happiness that the Folke Bernadotte Academy had granted TFF the funds that enables it to support the Coalition on a regular, continued basis for 12 months. This considerably increased their belief in the project as such and their willingness to invest time and energy in it.

The only negative result of this mission, in the midst of this progress, was that one of the two TFF Associates, Dr. Sururu Adolphe, went inactive and out of communication, probably due to too many other commitments; we simply don't know. Fortunately, Chantal Mutamuriza - the other TFF Associate in Burundi - was willing and able to fulfil both roles and has, thus, served as Project Coordinator in close, almost daily, contact with me. To both the Amahoro Coalition and TFF this has worked excellently; she is diligent, highly respected, intellectually curious, well versed on running organizational matters, socially competent and speaks the three necessary languages (Kirundi, French and English) fluently.

During this mission one more organization, FORSC, became a member of the Coalition and signed the Memorandum of Understanding.

In summary, this mission solidified the project, gave it a single focus and set the process of realizing it on track.

© Jan Oberg TFF 2006

The Amahoro Coalition & TFF work for her generation


Mission 2 - January 17-29, 2006

Main purpose was of this mission was that TFF board member Else Hammerich and Jan Oberg gave a three days intensive training course on a broad variety of peace issues such as definitions of peace, conflict-understanding, groups dynamics, reconciliation and forgiveness for 16 members from the Coalition NGOs (2 organisations had not sent participants due to practical circumstances). The participants, roughly 50/50 women and men, had been selected by the leaders of the Coalition NGOs as those to whom future Amahoro matters will be delegated.

The idea of the Amahoro Centre was a through theme to which the more theoretical issues were linked in group work and plenary discussions. Thus, the course indirectly served as a preparation for the co-operation among all in setting up the Centre.

(Minutes of the discussion and issues raised is available upon request).

It soon turned out that the top-leaders of the Coalition NGOs had done very little to spread the news about the Coalition and the idea of the Centre to their staff, so we had to focus a lot on issues of communication and co-ordination. To facilitate this much more effectively and democratically in the future, each member NGO has now appointed a "Focal Point" who is responsible for all communication inside his/her organisation, with Chantal and I and with other Coalition members pertaining to the Centre; an e-mail lists have been set up. Several of the Focal Points are level-two in the organisation; this has already proved to be a much better solution than relying on the top-leaders most of whom are overburdened already.

In addition, we had 20 meetings mainly at embassies and the UN to present the Amahoro Open Centre idea and clarify when they will be able to process the Coalition's funding proposal. . Hammerich had some alone to get acquainted with Burundi and the Coalition leaders (this was her first visit). We spend time with Coalition members who have formed a committee to work out a budget for the establishment of the Open Centre, the first year of operation and activities including a series of training courses for people from the regions.

We met with UNOB and the UNDP and the latter's country director Antonius Broek kindly offered to arrange a donors' meeting at our next visit at which the Coalition members and TFF could present the Amahoro Open Centre project to various countries and UNDP staff. As a quid pro quo he asked Jan to give a short lecture on peace and conflict theory internally for UNDP staff. (See next mission).

We received exclusively positive reactions to the Amahoro Centre idea during our meetings with people at the embassies of France, Belgium, Holland, DFID (England) etc. Without exception they encouraged us to submit the final proposal with a budget.

During this visit, Jan also planned the forthcoming one-week course in peace and conflict studies with the rector of the Lumiere University.

The mission ended with a gathering of the Coalition where reports were given by Else and Jan, problems solved, co-ordination improved and decision made as to the next steps (minutes available upon request).



Mission 3 - February 13-26, 2006

Main purpose of this mission was that Jan Oberg gave the mentioned introductory course in peace and conflict studies, the first-ever in the country, at the mentioned private university, a member of the Amahoro Coalition.

While there Chantal and he squeezed in as many meetings they could, particularly with donors, private business and banks - all appreciating the idea of the Centre and willing to later take a look at the project plan and budget with a view to make donations in cash or kind. One of them, the Indian owner of a pharmaceutical company liked the idea due to his admiration for Gandhi, invited Jan to give a lecture to the Bujumbura Rotary Club of which he is the President and a main donor himself. No doubt, he will do something for the Centre, and this is an example how we build goodwill with many people of rather different walks of life.

For a second time, we met Mme MacAskie, head of mission of the UN mission and about to leave the mission. Her and other UNOB staff's interest in the Coalition and the Centre has been quite touching. Undoubtedly, the ONUB mission belongs to the - many - succesful UN mission around the world that are seldom given the global media coverage they deserve.

© Jan Oberg TFF 2006

From the charming container compound of the UN in Bujumbura

She advised us to ensure that the project also has the support of the Burundian government. So we handed in requests for meetings with the President, a vice-President, the Speaker of Parliament and the ministers of the Interior and Foreign Affairs. The Speaker Mme Immaculée Nahayo and the Foreign Minister, Mme Antoinette Batumubwira went through immediately.

They both expressed their sincere gratitude to us, to the Coalition and to Sweden for having taken it upon us to do this in support of the peace process of their country. The Minister of Foreign Affairs emphasised that the Centre should reach out to the 17 regions from Day One and should also seek co-operation with similar Centres in the Great Lakes region. These points are now built into the project description. With her we also discussed TFF's future role as goodwill ambassadors, a concept she liked, and how we could use TFF Associates in the media to help promote Burundi's peace process abroad as well as perhaps give courses for Ministry staff.

The Speaker of the Parliament wanted us to see the Head of the Commission on Youth, Culture and Sports and discuss also various trainings that could be done with MPs.

At the Maison de la Presse, a member of our Coalition, the request was made for TFF to help train media people from the Great Lakes region in a triangular effort between media organisations there, the Panos Paris Institute and TFF in Sweden. The ball is with now the Maison and Panos.

Overwhelmingly, 130 first-year students (hutus, tutsis, and others) had signed up for the 5 days intensive course at the beautiful campus in the hills overlooking Bujumbura and Lake Tanganyika. Teaching every day from 8.00-12.00 and 14.30-17.30. Conditions: great curiosity and participation, but no books, no photocopier, only three days a week with electricity, no access to Internet, no library.

© Jan Oberg TFF 2006

Students in the peace studies class at the Lumiere University


Experienced in teaching in different cultures and under rather varied circumstances, Oberg felt that this was among the most rewarding and moving he has ever done. For instance, students managed to have serious group work discussing what had happened in the country, analysing it by the tools and concepts imparted to them, presenting it all and discussing criss-cross the room. This would have been unthinkable just a couple of years ago. These students gave Jan even more hope that peace is possible in Burundi.

Please support TFF's continued work in Burundi

The students told rector Gregoire Njejimana that all the 1800 students ought to have an opportunity to study peace, and he urges us to ask the Bernadotte Academy to support a program that would permit at least some more courses to take place in the future.

Important in itself to teach young Burundians, there is no doubt that the most talented of them could well be future leaders of civil society and government in this country. They were also informed about the Amahoro Coalition and Open Centre and since about 70 of them handed in their e-mails we will be able to be in contact. Many of them expressed their interest in joining a Coalition member NGO and work as volunteers to build the Amahoro Centre.

The UNDP donors' meeting went very well. Coalition members were present together with aid agencies and ambassadors. We presented the Coalition and the Centre idea and Mr. Broek spoke strongly in favour of it, ending the meeting by looking at the assembled people saying, "This is certainly something we should all support." UNDP has appointed three Focal Points to interact with us. I gave the UNDP staff a mini lecture and it was decided that we should work out a plan for more teaching and training with the UNDP and possibly other UN bodies who support the Coalition.

More meeting were held with potential donors and supporters, among them the Ambassador of South Africa that has a particularly important role in Burundi's peace process.

Again, on the final day, members of the Coalition met. Chantal and Jan reported what had been achieved. Various working groups were established to finalise the project description and edit it into a funding proposal; revision of the budget will be done.

A Committee was also set up to deal with various options on how to transform the present lose Coalition network into an operative body once the funding has been obtained and the Centre becomes an administrative, economic and legal body. The general sense is that it should be as formal as required by donors and laws and as informal and flexible as possible to remain dynamic and to not become a hierarchy of power. (Minutes available upon request).



Mission 4 - May 22 - June 1, 2006

The purposes of this mission was to:

a) follow-up on the grant proposals submitted to various countries and the UNDP,

b) submit it to three new (China, Russia and US DAI),

c) visit local antennas of Coalition NGOs in the second richest province Gitega and in the second poorest in Ruyigi,

d) do fact-finding interviews with local governors to understand the provincial situation better,

e) visit other civil society organisations that the Amahoro Coalition and Centre shall reach out and cooperate with plus, f) meet with selected Coalition members in Bujumbura,

g) present the Amahoro Coalition and Centre to the government (in this case, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the country's President Pierre Nkurunziza) as well as

h) discuss the project with UNDP staff members.

Both the President and Minister of Foreign Affairs have stressed - strongly - that the Amahoro Open Centre and its activities predominantly benefit the provinces rather the people in Bujumbura, it was particularly important for the project coordinator and Jan to this time give priority to travels and meetings in the provinces. And indeed the differences between life there and in Bujumbura are striking.


© Jan Oberg TFF 2006

Typical countryside view of Burundi and its red soil

We met with two "new" organizations that are a) without office in Bujumbura and b) are very focussed on peace and reconciliation and c) have produced results over the years that are admired everywhere - namely "Maggy" Barankitze's Maison Shalom in Ruyigi and Levy Ndikumana's Mi-Parec in Gitega. They are likely to join the Amahoro Coalition in the near future and cooperation about local courses has already been discussed.

During the visit a bank account was set up in the Interbank Burundi in order to ensure that Coalition activities as well as project coordination can continue until a) funds are made available for the Centre by the international donor community and b) TFF may obtain funds for one more year's activities. Cash can be withdrawn from this account only with Jan Oberg's written authorization (by fax/email). The account can be used for things like a photocopier, printing of pamphlets and for the launching of a Coalition/Centre homepage.

A sub-group of the Amahoro Coalition is now working on a couple of proposals for statutes, coordination and decision-making for the Centre, so that the Centre will be operating both democratically and efficiently from the moment funds come through for the establishment of the Centre.

In this way continuity is secured for in the period between this first year of operation and the next. Given the delicate peace process of the country and the fact that TFF is not registered as a foreign NGO in Burundi, it is extremely important for the future momentum that the Amahoro Coalition and Centre has the full support from the Minister of Foreign Affairs (2 meetings), the Speaker of the Parliament and with the President who endorsed it fully and ended a longer-than-usual meeting by saying that he would pray for the Centre because of its possible role in securing peace in the country.

This is what has been achieved up till June 1, 2006.


© Jan Oberg TFF 2006

Children's rights and the human right to peace...


Part B


Summary of activities and other matters


1. Goal achievements

The project has been rooted well in Bujumbura, we work with some of the best, most experienced and respected NGOs. TFF has conducted a successful screening of Coalition members, facilitated dialogues, meetings with democratic decision-making. An e-mail network has been set up among them, we have conducted courses and seminars; the Coalition has brainstormed on choosing a single integrated project and come up with the idea of the Amahoro Open Centre described on our Burundi Forum here.

Most important for the future, a solid project proposal with a budget has been developed by the organizations themselves. This is undoubtedly their commitment to the process, to building peace in Burundi (beyond their own individual projects and activities).

In TFF's funding proposal to the Bernadotte Academy we stated three main goals. We believed we have advanced them all.


2. The Amahoro Coalition as partners and soon-to-be carriers

The Coalition partners are very important and wide-ranging for the Burundian peace process. For instance, League Iteka is the largest and internationally respected human rights organizations. FORSC has over 60 member NGOs. STEB, one of two teachers' associations, have 14.000 members. The RPA Radio is either the most or second-most listened-to station in the country. The Light University is a dynamic new private university with 1700 students. APDH is a country-wide youth organization. OAG and CENAP are leading research and think tanks on socio-political affairs. THARS is the leading organization for trauma-healing and reconciliation.

What the Coalition and the future Amahoro Open Centre will do will, literally, have an impact on tens of thousands of Burundian citizens.

The Coalition is now a quite cohesive group with committed people who see a purpose and feel that synergy is possible. We have anchored the project with the donor community and many interested parties in Bujumbura.

However, it should also be stated that in a country such as Burundi, NGOs are fragile in a serious of ways. Funds, electricity, technical competence, a culture of cooperation and coordination and strong centralization to the capital are structural factors that any foreigner will have to deal with. In particular, until the international donor community decides to donate at least some of the desired means for a place to be found and concrete activities to start, the Amahoro Coalition members will hardly give the Open Centre first priority among their many activities.

And by all feedback TFF has received, there is no doubt that they feel the foundation should remain active on the spot and do training, dissemination and practical work together with them until the Centre is a reality and operates on a daily basis. To give just one example, here is what the leader of THARS, David Niyonzima, wrote in an email May 30:

"Dear Jan, It was so good to have a chat with you and Chantal at the Gitega Tamotel the other day. Thank you for allowing me to come over and spend sometime even though it was so late. I am now in the USA attending a course on Perfromance Measurement of Effectiveness of Nonprofit Organizations, at Harvard Business School. I hope that what I will learn could also be useful in our Amahoro Coalition.. Thank you again for your heart for Burundi. We are so encouraged by your support and care. David."


3. The role of women

One criterion for selecting the NGOs to the Coalition was that they expressed a serious commitment to reach out and include women, children and youth. They all do and several of them either have leaders or deputies who are women. The majority of those who participated in our training course were women. Our project coordinator is a woman.

© Jan Oberg TFF 2006

Sewing a dress in the street of Bujumbura

Indeed, the newly elected government has 36% women ministers, including the important post as Foreign Minister; and the role of women is constantly emphasized by both parliamentarians and the President. At the same time, we are keenly aware that there is still a male bias in the daily practical work and we will focus future training activities even more on women, children and youth, i.e. on teachers and human rights workers in particular who work to reduce violence against women throughout the Burundian society.


4. Information and dissemination

A stated goal was also to provide information. Much of what has been produced and achieved, including the revised Amahoro Open Centre proposal, has been posted on TFF's website. We have also planned a series of articles about Burundi's peace process and the situation of the country, for the international press. TFF is now accepted as informal goodwill ambassador for Burundi's peace process.

Jean-Marie Vianney Kavumbagu, a member of the Amahoro Coalition, will design and edit a homepage for the Coalition and its Centre over the summer; he is President of League Iteka and webmaster for its homepage as well as for LDGL Human Rights regional network. The new site will be interacting with TFF's Burundi Forum.


Please support TFF's continued work in Burundi

This will help spread the message also beyond the borders of Burundi. In addition it will permit the Coalition members to upload articles, press releases, their papers and reports, etc. in a simple way in that section. A pamphlet and other materials will also be produced to assist also in fundraising among Burundian citizens for the Centre.

TFF board member Annette Carlsson, an experienced TV journalist, is planning to produce a documentary for the Swedish Television and possibly other outlets. It will focus on Burundi's peace process and on the setting up of the Amahoro Centre, thus emphasizing the civil society empowerment dimension. The project is already described and a photographer identified. Budget work and fund-raising will be done over the summer.

During the last mission it was agreed with the Minister of Foreign Affairs herself that TFF will submit a paper that outlines some elements of an international communication strategy for Burundi's peace process. She also emphasized that anything we could do to support the training of journalists would be highly appreciated. Proposals for that will be developed over the summer with other TFF Associates and our Coalition's media expertise and other experts.

The above-mentioned film project by Carlsson may serve as one important tool to reach a wider audience internationally and was high praised by the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

It should be mentioned also that the present Burundian government has revived, in its official program, the plan to set up a state institute for peace and democracy. TFF developed the concept for the government in 2000 that was however never implemented. This institute was discussed with the President who expressed a wish to see the proposal developed by TFF at the time. It has been sent to him.

Finally, Jan Oberg has produced a 40-page analysis, to by the academic Conflict & Communication Online journal about the international media coverage of Burundi and its peace process. It deals also with war versus peace journalism and, towards the end, outlines a few elements of an internatinal media strategy for the country. (To be published later in 2006).


5. The next 12-24 months

The total estimated budget for the Amahoro Centre is around 160.000 Euros. The project description and that budget have been submitted to the embassies/representatives of England, Holland, Belgium, South Africa, China, Russia, US DAI, Switzerland, UNDP, ONUB a.o.

We are in the process of seeking support from the Swedish and Danish development agencies. We have begun to approach private business in Bujumbura and ask for their support in money or kind.

This budget includes a) the establishment and renovation of the facilities, equipment, machinery etc; b) operating costs including salaries for Year 1; and c) costs for a series of training of trainers from the provinces who can root the Amahoro idea there. This is of course a dream or a vision with price tags, and the Centre can start operations with less than the full sum. A series of income-generating activities are mentioned in the proposal as all Coalition members know that no donor will finance the Centre for more than 1-3 years at maximum. So although we are confident that we will get a substantial support from the international donor community, there is still a long way to go to realize the dream.

In a non-prioritised order here are the things that should be done in the next 1-2 years to see the Amahoro Coalition and Centre develop strongly:

Approaching the Danish and Swedish governments/aid agencies and ask for their support of the Amahoro Centre.

Reviewing the various options for the administrative establishment of the Centre, including writing the minimum statutes, setting up a coordinating board and opening a bank account.

Trying to meet the stated needs of the Coalition members for more training in a broad variety of issues, the given three days training certainly not enough. We have an ongoing discussion with Else Hammerich's Centre for Conflict Resolution in Copenhagen about joining forces for that. Back in time the Coalition members had a brain-storm on what themes they thought they needed and more came up during our three days training in January. We should see it as training trainers so they themselves can do a series of courses with people from the provinces.

Handing in the funding proposal with budget for the Amahoro Centre as the deadline of various donors approach. The first is with DFID on April 1, 2006, the last we know of to the French Embassy by September or October 2006.

Hopefully obtaining enough funds to begin finding the house/rooms to rent and start renovating and organise the Centre's premises with its various activities. During this start up phase, TFF will have to permanently present over several weeks and a lot of administrative decisions will have to be made.

Further building of goodwill nationally - including an information and media campaign throughout society so we get volunteers and all interested to join forces.

Further fund-raising among Burundian business and wealthy people plus getting Burundian artists, musicians and others interested and contribute their art and music etc to the Centre when it is there.

Work to do other courses, such as with media people, should the Maison de la Press-Panos Paris project come through with our participation.

Various possible training activities with UNDP, ONUB - not the least in the countryside (as a quid pro quo for their support in cash or kind to the Centre).

Future university teaching and courses.

Supporting in various ways the establishment of (a) similar Amahoro Centre(s) outside Bujumbura.

Assist the government in setting up a peace institute.

Assist the government in developing and international information strategy for the country's peace process.


Get free articles & updates

© TFF & the author 2006  

Tell a friend about this article

Send to:


Message and your name




S P E C I A L S & F O R U M S

Iraq Forum

Gandhi & India

Burundi Forum

Photo galleries

Nonviolence Forum

TFF News Navigator

Become a TFF Friend

TFF Online Bookstore

Reconciliation project

EU conflict-management

Make an online donation

Foundation update and more

TFF Peace Training Network

Make a donation via bank or postal giro

Basic menu below












The Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research
Vegagatan 25, S - 224 57 Lund, Sweden
Phone + 46 - 46 - 145909     Fax + 46 - 46 - 144512

© TFF 1997 till today