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A Framework For Responsible Aid To Burundi


Within the last two months, thanks to the active engagement of the facilitation team, Burundi's peace process has exceeded expectations. Momentum has never been so strong since the civil war began ten years ago. On 3 December 2002, the transitional government led by President Buyoya signed a landmark ceasefire agreement with the Conseil national pour la défense de la démocratie – Forces de défense de la démocratie (CNDD-FDD) of Jean-Pierre Nkurunziza. This complemented the ceasefire reached two months earlier with two minor rebel groups (the CNDD-FDD faction led by Jean-Bosco Ndayikengurukiye and the PALIPEHUTU-FNL faction led by Alain Mugabarabona). On 27 January 2003, the government and the three rebel groups signed an additional memorandum of understanding establishing a Joint Ceasefire Commission and setting a date for the return of Mugarabona and Ndayikengurukiye to Burundi. An African Union force with South African, Ethiopian and Mozambican troops is to be deployed in the next few weeks.

For months the absence of a ceasefire was used by the international community as an excuse not to resume aid and by the transitional government to justify not implementing the reforms demanded by the Arusha peace accords signed in August 2000. Donors have also demanded progress in Arusha implementation to release aid, while the government has claimed it needs money to carry out the political reforms. Now that a ceasefire is in place, most donors argue that they first want to see a complete stop of the violence and the changeover from President Buyoya to Vice President Ndayizeye go as scheduled on 1 May 2003 before they open their purses. This prudence, however, has become counter-productive.

True, Burundi is not yet stable. The transitional government has not implemented the Arusha reforms; the PALIPEHUTU-FNL of Agathon Rwasa still rejects the talks; a comprehensive reform of the security sector remains to be agreed upon, and the disarmament and cantonment process has not yet started. Marginal violence by Hutu rebels and resistance to change among the Tutsi oligarchy will likely remain strong even with a comprehensive ceasefire. But ICG believes that now is the time for donors to play their essential role in building peace. The delivery of peace dividends will signal their commitment to the process, give the CNDD-FDD fighters an incentive to accept the disarmament and reintegration process (DDRRR) and the PALIPEHUTU-FNL an incentive to negotiate. It will also give donors the necessary leverage to pressure the transitional government on reforms. Political support for the May presidential changeover and responsible, well-controlled and coordinated aid can isolate spoilers, help consolidate the credibility of the transitional government, and fuel positive change.

The Burundian people, economy, and state structures have suffered heavily from a decade of fighting, a three-year embargo, drought, the abandonment of much of the population by the state, and a 66 per cent decrease in international aid. GDP fell by 20 per cent in this period and is third from the bottom in the 2002 UN human development index; primary school enrolment dropped in the same period from 70 per cent to 28 per cent, and infant mortality is back to its 1960 level. The end of the war requires the reintegration into a traumatised and disorganised society of 70,000 ex-combatants, the cost of which the World Bank estimates at U.S.$90 million, as well as of 1.2 million refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs).

That more national donor cooperation is feasible at this stage has been demonstrated by the success of substantial community development and reconstruction programs (schools, health centres, homes, water sources) run by UNDP, the World Bank, and the EU. The UN and the transitional government are preparing plans for reconstruction and the reintegration of refugees, and some early peacebuilding programs are expanding rapidly. The EU funded distribution of food to the rebels in December 2002 so that they would stop preying on civilians – a specific example of how the international community can directly advance the peace process. Reform-minded individuals within the transitional government need international support to push change forward. Burundians are desperate for resources and are likely to accept the structural reforms necessary to receive this assistance if it is tangible and at hand. In return donors should demand a reduction in military expenditure and an immediate cessation of speculation on coffee income and monetary exchange.

A donor coordination unit should be established in Burundi to liaise with the transitional government in developing a joint strategy for implementing Protocol IV of the Arusha Agreement, which provides a roadmap for economic aspects of the post-conflict period.

Nelson Mandela said, at the first donors conference in December 2000, that "It must be possible for the people of Burundi to materially distinguish between the destructiveness of conflict and the benefits of peace." It is time to pick up the leadership mantle that Mandela passed to donors and the UN. As the facilitator of the new ceasefire accord, Jacob Zuma, said in December 2002, "Regional efforts had achieved much progress in Burundi, but a complete peace could not be achieved without the full support of the international community".


A. Priority Actions

To Donors:

1. Provide immediately the resources necessary for:

(a) the deployment of the African Observer Mission, as requested by the UN Security Council on 30 January 2003;

(b) the work of the ceasefire implementation commission; and

(c) the sustainability and expansion of food distributions to rebel groups.

2. Give the Burundi chapter of the Great Lakes Multi-country Demobilisation and Reintegration Program (MDRP) the resources needed for the demobilisation and reintegration of over 70,000 former combatants.

3. Provide resources for reintegrating 1.2 million refugees and IDPs and increase the capacity of the transitional government, UN, and NGO to monitor the integration.

4. Monitor military expenditures, speculation on coffee revenue and on monetary exchange.

5. Establish a taskforce of Burundian and international economists to outline steps for restructuring and opening the economy, including:

(a) privatisation of state assets;

(b) jobs creation through micro-credit programs, high-intensity manual labour, and reconstruction projects;

(c) new accountability structures in the state through fiscal reform; and

(d) support for the role of private business and entrepreneurs in national reconstruction.

6. Support immediate reconstruction in all areas where security permits, making critical use of the transitional government’s National Reconstruction Program.

7. Develop a realistic decentralisation plan that integrates all efforts underway.

8. Harmonise World Bank, EU and UNDP community-based reconstruction programs to reinforce decentralisation mechanisms and insist on true community involvement in identifying priorities.

9. Support immediate reconstruction of the education system, including correction of imbalances in access to primary, secondary and higher education, and provide support for the education costs of disadvantaged children.

10. Develop training programs and schools for professionals such as public servants, teachers, medical staff, and accountants.

11. Support comprehensive reform of the judicial system.

12. Ensure equal ethnic opportunities for local subcontractors and positions in NGOs and UN agencies.

B. Actions to Create a Framework for Improving Assistance Cooperation with Burundi

To Donors:

13. Develop a donor coordination unit, with a secretariat to:

(a) create a joint strategy for the transition period based on the objectives of Protocol IV of the Arusha Agreement;

(b) integrate the existing donor programs (World Bank, IMF, EU, UN, national) and strategies under this framework;

(c) work with the government to revise its interim Poverty Reduction Strategic Plan (IPRSP) in accordance with the overall donor strategy and Protocol IV;

(d) analyse jointly with the transitional government the capacity of UN agencies, NGOs, and communities to implement the strategy;

(e) monitor implementation of the joint strategy and the Arusha Agreement;

(f) act as interlocutor for the Inter-Ministerial Monitoring Commission for Economic and Social Policy (CIPES) that the government has created to replace the Reconstruction and Development Unit outlined in Protocol IV.

(g) develop and monitor "aid-for-peace bargains" with the transitional government based on specific objectives of the Arusha Agreement;

(h) institute a regular conflict impact assessment mechanism as part of the program monitoring system;

(i) keep the transitional government informed of what money will be available, when, and what it must do to receive it; and

(j) evaluate the transitional government's capacity to carry out the National Reconstruction Program, and the Interim Strategy for Economic Expansion and Poverty Reduction, presented at the Donor Roundtable 27-28 November 2002 and support their implementation in all possible areas.

To the Transitional Government:

14. Strengthen the Inter-Ministerial Monitoring Commission for Economic and Social Policy so that it can be an effective interlocutor for the donor coordination unit and the UN Reintegration Unit.

15. Develop all plans listed in Protocol IV, including reintegration of IDPs and economic and political reconstruction during the transitional, medium and long-term periods.

16. Establish immediately the National Commission for the Reintegration of Sinistrés (IDPs) and the sub-commission on land, clarify the terms of the Ministry for Reconstruction, Reintegration and Repatriation's supervision, entrench good governance and transparency mechanisms in its operational structures and clarify the division in responsibilities between it and the Inter-Ministerial Commission for the Monitoring and Economic and Social Policy.

17. Develop a reintegration policy to protect the rights of all Burundians, both refugees and internally displaced, as well as of the communities that will receive them.

To the Implementation Monitoring Committee (IMC) and UN Agencies:

18. Develop a joint UN strategy to support implementation of the Arusha Agreement.

19. Request technical support from donors and other UN agencies to strengthen the IMC's capacity to fulfil its mandate to "follow up, monitor, supervise, coordinate and ensure the effective implementation of all the provisions of the Agreement".

Nairobi/Brussels, 21 February 2003


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