Founded in 2002, the Conflict Alert and Prevention Centre (CENAP) is a non-partisan NGO which analyses and mitigates conflict in Burundi. It promotes sustainable development through research into conflict, facilitating dialogue, and conflict resolution. CENAP works closely with other local, regional, and international peacebuilding organisations. It has carried out various projects and appointed five local correspondents across Burundi to monitor local conflicts.
CENAP has previously received funding from bodies such as InterPeace and Belgium Cooperation.
Recently, CENAP has facilitated regional forums in the implementation of the Project of Dialogue and Consultation run by BINUB and the Burundian government, and also carried out a consultancy on people’s perceptions and views on the work done by national security forces (police and army).
Identifying Challenges to Long-term Peace
This is a 27-month peacebuilding programme, started in October 2007, and run by CENAP and Interpeace. The project collects views from a representative sample of the Burundian population through focus groups, interviews, and audiovisual sessions, in order to understand what ordinary people believe is needed to create long-term peace.
The initiative started with training for the CENAP team. CENAP then began to organise focus groups, interviews, and group meetings to collect the views of approximately 2,700 Burundians from various backgrounds. They involved local authorities, civil society organisations, women, young people, the police and army, refugees and IDPs, religious leaders, students, and demobilised soldiers in focus groups. Experts and key political players were also interviewed one-to-one.
After this first stage, CENAP convened a large forum of 100 people which was representative of Burundi’s various socio-economic groups. This national forum then set out to select the key peacebuilding priorities on which further research should focus. The CENAP team facilitated this process, developing consensus-based solutions to these priority issues.
In 2009, the CENAP team started a second phase based on a participatory approach to find consensual solutions adapted to a Burundian context to the identified challenges (illegal circulation of weapons; poverty and unemployment; attitudes during elections; and justice and reconciliation). Dialogue groups have been created in communes and provinces to connect the four task-forces and grassroots community. These solutions will be presented at a National Forum for final validation and prioritisation at the end of the year.
The CENAP team is coordinating the work of the four task-forces which gather various expertises according to the theme.
The forum selected four key peacebuilding priorities to be expanded upon in future research:
- The illegal circulation of weapons;
- Poverty and unemployment;
- Attitudes during elections; and
- Transitional justice.
So far, the focus group discussions have demonstrated people’s enthusiasm for dialogue. Many groups felt that the problems which originally led to the war are unresolved. In the Bugendana commune (Gitega province), participants said: ‘If politicians do not make up their minds, another war is possible.’ In Kamenge (Bujumbura), one participant commented: “If this kind of dialogue had been initiated in the 1970s, the 1993 war would have never happened.”
Whenever CENAP organised discussions in remote areas, participants expressed a sense of being excluded from politicians’ agenda. Rural populations expressed a deep concern that politicians are not working for the greater good, and that the justice system does not serve ordinary people. In Kamenge, one of the participants said: “One cannot start by ploughing the top of the hill” – emphasising the importance of involving people in the peace process from the bottom up.