Burundi

Rune Edvardsen, leder for Dina-stiftelsen, på fredskonferanse i Burundi. Foto: Nathalie Edvardsen.

At the core of the conflicts is the ethnical diversity between Hutus, Tutsis and Twas. Reinforced during the colonial time when the country first was occupied by Germans, then Belgians. The Colonial Empire favored Tutsis, despite the fact that the Hutus were the large majority. When the country became independent in 1962, the Tutsis obtained power, resulting in the Hutus organizing resistance groups to fight suppression.

Civil war
In 1993 Melchior Ndadaye, a Hutu, was elected president in the country’s first democratic election. Only three months after his inauguration he was assassinated by the Tutsi-dominated army, leading to an outbreak of civil war all over the country. 50,000 Hutus and Tutsis were killed, and 700,000 Hutus fled the country.

Cyprien Ntaryamira became the new president, but in reality the Tutsi army was ruling. The following year a plane with the presidents from Burundi and Rwanda, both Hutus, was shot down outside Kigali’s airport. In Rwanda there was an outbreak of genocide, while Burundi had ongoing ethnical fighting.

The peace process
After this incident the Hutu group CNDD-FDD was formed and got massive support. As a result of international pressure an arrangement was signed in 2001 between the Tutsi government and several Hutu groups in the country. CNDD-FDD and another larger Hutu groups didn’t partake in this arrangement.

The leader of CNDD-FDD, Pierre Nkurunziza, laid down his weapons in 2003. The country’s first successful presidential election was conducted two years later. Nkurunziza was elected president with his political party. The Constitution that showed favor to the Tutsis was replaced. The new legislation demands the president and the vice president having different ethnicity. The government and parliament are to be composed of 60 percent Hutus, 40 percent Tutsis, and 30 percent women. The Twa-people are assigned three seats in the parliament, the group represent one percent of the population. According to the new legislation a single ethnical group are never to exceed more than 50 percent of the army. Free education for all children was introduced, but there is a great lack of school buildings and teachers. The Dina Foundation saw this as an area where to get involved, so today we run four schools in the country.

Norwegian development assistance
The Norwegian Government started a development assistance program, in cooperation with Burundi, in 2007. The main goal for the Norwegian involvement was to promote peace, stability, and development. Norway emphasized budget support through the World Bank and integration of the rebel grouping in the political process during the first years. In later years, the focus for Norwegian development assistance has been promoting education, especially elementary education.

Huge poverty
At the moment Burundi is going through the longest period of democratic elected authorities in the country’s history. The country’s economy is still small and unilateral. Major export commodities are coffee and tea, even though the country has a long way to go to reach the export level of its neighbors. In addition to being one of the poorest countries in the world, Burundi is among those with highest population density. Together with the fact that 90 percent of its population work agriculturally, this leads to a huge lack of arable land. The economical growth level has been around four percent the past years. The country is in need of a level of eight percent to be able to keep up with the population growth, which is the highest in the world. In area the country is about the same size as the US State of Rhode Island, but has approximately eight times as many inhabitants, a total of 8.8 million. On average each woman gives birth to 6-7 children. According to the World Bank, 81 percent of the population is living below the poverty line, meaning on less than a dollar a day.

Dina in Burundi

After decades of civil war focuses heavily on government schools and education for the new generation. The Dina Foundation has provided schools in the country.

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The Dina School in Cankuzo

In Cankuzo, Burundi, a school for 380 students has been built, funded by the Norwegian company Modena Fliser.

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The Dina School in Gitega

In Gitega, Burundi, The Dina Foundation has built two schools for a total of 1 200 students.