In partnership with a number of international and local organisations, Cord recently launched a new project, Building Bridges in Burundi, that will help transform the lives of young people in a country where 60% of the population is under 25 and youth unemployment stands at 80%. The aim of this five year project is to tackle the root causes of violence in Burundi. The project will empower some of the country’s most vulnerable and marginalised youth, by helping them not only to secure meaningful livelihoods and to provide for their needs, but also to build a sense of resilience and the ability to reject the use of violence.

This new project builds on our recent work with the Batwa, Burundi’s most marginalised ethnic group. It recognises the importance of providing space for communities, whose relationships with each other have been undermined by conflict, to come together and identify the solutions to the common challenges that they face.

Our Head of Programmes (Andy Pask) and our Burundi Country Director (Fulgence Ndagijimana) met Centre Ubuntu, one of Cord’s local partners, during a trip to Burundi’s capital Bujumbura last week.

Centre Ubuntu’s role in this project will be in delivering activities which improve relationships both between communities and with local authorities, helping to mitigate the risk of further violent conflict. Centre Ubuntu has extensive experience of using narrative theatre when working with communities to respond to trauma and build more peaceful relationships. This approach encourages community members to participate in theatre activity, allowing them to freely express their feelings. A different topic is addressed at each narrative theatre session, which is followed by a discussion and reflection on the extent to which the performance reflects their personal experiences. This approach provides communities with the opportunity to express their needs and concerns in an informal and safe environment.

On his return to the UK, Cord's Head of Programmes, Andy Pask, reflected on his time in Burundi: “It’s fantastic to be working with an organisation like Centre Ubuntu who are so passionate about working with communities to address the root causes of the conflicts being experienced. In the current context in Burundi, there is a huge need for the work that they do and I’m excited to see how together Cord and Centre Ubuntu can support real change in the lives of everyday people over the next few years.”