Transitional Demobilization and Reintegration Program
Burundi: Looking for synergies to enhance reintegration prospects of ex-combatants
January 2011
Anton Baaré, Conseiller DDR Principal, est responsable des activités de DDRnet.
Désiré Ndagijimana, Communication and
Synergy specialist in the project's
Technical Coordination Team

In Burundi, the Emergency Demobilization and Transitional Reintegration Program is seeking ways to coordinate the project's reintegration support with other programs to provide better opportunities for ex-combatants



The dictionary defines synergy as “the interaction of two or more forces so that their combined effect is greater than the sum of their individual effects.”

In the context of the Burundi Emergency Demobilization and Transitional Reintegration Program (EDTRP) currently under way, synergy refers to giving ex-combatants information and referrals about other reintegration opportunities that may be available to them.  In other words, by combining its support with other options for economic reintegration, the EDTRP seeks to achieve a better outcome for ex-combatants.

Last phase of DDR

The EDTRP is the last phase of demobilization and reintegration activities in Burundi. In August 2009, the last demobilization center was closed. After the 8,000 ex-combatants supported by the project receive reintegration support – vocational training for some, agricultural inputs or formal education for others – they will be regular citizens again, facing the same challenges on the job market as other Burundians. In this context, ensuring that ex-combatants have viable options for medium to long term economic reintegration is all the more important.

The Communication and Synergy specialist in the technical coordination team (TCT) of the EDTRP explains: “The objective of synergy activities is to make the link between the short term assistance we provide through the project and longer term economic opportunities. We want to make it possible for ex-combatants to find sustainable options for reintegration within their communities.”

Connecting DDR with other development projects

Les séminaires de DDRnet tel que celui-ci en avril 2010 rassemblent des participants de tous bords.
Thanks to a referral to a workers association that
quarries out stones for construction,
this ex-combatant now earns a salary.

His initial work consisted in identifying other development partners in Burundi who may offer work opportunities for ex-combatants. “There are several other programs in the country that offer good economic options. For example projects by the World Food Program, UNDP or the World Bank. The difficulty is staying on top of a continuously changing environment – projects change, people move.”

After identification, the second challenge is convincing the managers of these other programs that they should consider including ex-combatants in their activities.

Other organizations see the EDTRP as a potential financier for their own activities. Once they understand that it is not the case, the second hurdle is to make them accept that ex-combatants can be included as part of their target groups,” says the TCT operational manager.

This is a tough battle to win, since the prevalent view is that ex-combatants already receive comfortable benefits, and hence do not need additional support.

The synergy specialist explains: “It’s true that the Project gives some support for the return of ex-combatants to civilian life, but I think ex-combatants should be viewed as a vulnerable group: most of them have missed out on school, so they lack a formal education. They have been removed from regular social interactions during their time in the armed groups and need additional support to reintegrate socially also.

From networking to real opportunities

To tackle these challenges, the EDTRP held several synergy workshops with the project’s implementing partners, other development partners and representatives from various ministries. The workshops helped to create a network of contacts and to ease some reluctance on the part of potential providers of economic opportunities. The TCT keeps in regular contact with people in the network and has set up a mechanism to inform ex-combatants about identified opportunities.

Results so far have been positive.

Anton Baaré, Conseiller DDR Principal, est responsable des activités de DDRnet.
Through the help of UNICEF, the IRC and
the Burundian Government, these two former
child soldiers each obtained a home in a
peace village as well as basic necessities
to start a new life.
  • The CTB (Belgian development agency) agreed to hire some ex-combatants in a road paving project it is preparing in Bujumbura.
  • Four associations of ex-combatants established during the previous phase of D&R have agreed to welcome ex-combatants from the EDTRP into their ranks. Ex-combatants in the two phases belonged to different political parties during the civil war, so this coming together in associations will also help to mend the country’s social fabric.
  • Two former child soldiers who could not be reunified with their families were resettled into homes in a “peace village” thanks to the combined efforts of UNICEF, UNDP and the IRC.


Looking forward, we want to multiply these opportunities” says the synergy specialist. ”And we also need to follow up closely the synergies already created to ensure that verbal or written agreements are translated into practice. This is a continuous effort.”

Burundi is not the only country where linkages between reintegration and development in a larger sense are attempted. But early successes in this area are a testimony of the TCT’s dedication to helping ex-combatants rebuild secure livelihoods.

The Burundi Emergency Demobilization and Transitional Reintegration Program
IDA Approval June 2009
Project Effectiveness September 2009
Financing: IDA 10 millions USD
Financing: Trust Fund 12.5 million USD (Belgium, EU, Netherlands, Norway)
Closing Date December 2011
Beneficiaries 8000 ex-combatants
Components Demobilization
Transitional socio economic reintegration
Support to vulnerable groups (women, children, disabled)
Implementation arrangements A technical Coordination Team manages the project by overseeing several implementing partners (NGOs) spread over the country. An umbrella NGO is in charge of training and coordination of partners.
Contact PDRT  Immeuble PEACE HOUSE-
Boulevard de l’Indépendance, B.P
1932 Bujumbura- Burundi,
Fax : (257) 22 24 93 37
Tél : (257) 22 24 91 97

E-mail :





↑ Back to top