Community-based Peacebuilding in Turbulent Context; An examination of the changing socio-political context and its effect on CARE's peacebuilding practices in Burundi

dc.contributor.advisorBomert, H.W.
dc.contributor.authorGenugten, Bas van
dc.description.abstractThis master thesis focuses on the changing socio-political context from ‘relative peace’ to ‘a state of civil war’ in Burundi and on the question of how this changing context has affected the bottom-up peacebuilding program (Peace Under Construction) of CARE since 2012. Humanitarian interventions are sensitive to the context in which they operate, especially in the case of violent conflict. Just few studies, however, touch upon the issue of the impact of the changing context over time on humanitarian practices. Guided by the theory of bottom-up peacebuilding and the participatory model, the Peace Under Construction program has been examined. According to the theory, a participatory model ensures conflict-sensitivity and guarantees successful and sustainable development. In Burundi the socio-political context has changed significantly, contrary to most expectations. The Burundian government that announced to run for a third, unconstitutional, term in office, has become – despite the large opposition – increasingly authoritarian. The government managed to silence almost all of the opposition and is increasingly playing the ethnic card between the Hutus and the Tutsis. Through building on the experiences of humanitarian professionals working with or in Burundi, this study concludes that the changing context and the authoritarian nature of the regime do indeed affect the program. This is of course relative, as the situation in the capital of Bujumbura is much worse than the situation elsewhere in the country. Much of the restricted humanitarian space derives not only from the current crisis but also from the donors. Communities have more fear, which affects significant elements of the participatory model such as social cohesion and participation. The restrictions on freedom of expression have called the achieved empowerment of communities into question, whereby the local authorities have been replaced by people from the ruling party. The link between the ‘bottom’ towards the ‘up’ has disappeared as a consequence of a new mandate given by the donor as well as by the Burundian government itself; social contracts have disappeared or need to be built up again. Overall the top-down and oppressive approach by the Burundian government is effective and in stark contrast with the bottom-up approach of CARE. Yet, because of the missing link with the national government, sustainability has yet to be seen. And in-between all restrictions coming from the major stakeholders, CARE’s relationship with the local NGO partners has become significantly important and upholding the principle of neutrality opens up the opportunity to continue working at the local level. Humanitarian space still exists at the local level as long as actors are not framed by the government as the ‘opposition’ and as long as the local government sees the benefits deriving from the program. Although the PUC program has achieved a lot in and outside of Bujumbura, for instance a strengthening of the capacity of peace clubs, CARE should not close its eyes for what it has NOT achieved because of the changing socio-political context. It is important to acknowledge the negative effects of the authoritarian nature of the regime in Burundi and how it undermines important and sometimes essential components of the participatory model or the bottom-up approach in general. Change is a process and cannot be achieved overnight, lessons need to be learned and adjusted to future programs.en_US
dc.thesis.facultyFaculteit der Managementwetenschappenen_US
dc.thesis.specialisationConflicts, Territories and Identitiesen_US
dc.thesis.studyprogrammeMaster Human Geographyen_US
dc.titleCommunity-based Peacebuilding in Turbulent Context; An examination of the changing socio-political context and its effect on CARE's peacebuilding practices in Burundien_US
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