By Helena Gronberg
On January 14, 2013, we set out for Cankuzo Province to hold a three-day training as part of our Localizing UNSCR 1325 and 1820 program. Bordering Tanzania, Cankuzo is one of the most remotely situated provinces of Burundi’s 17 provinces. With a population of less than 250,000 (latest estimate from 2008 census) of Burundi’s 10.5 million population (2012), Cankuzo is also one of the most scarcely populated areas, partly due to the fact that a big part of the province is allocated to a nature reserve, the Ruvubu National Park. However, apart from its dark, sweet tasting honey that you can buy by the pound, Cankuzo takes pride in having one of the highest percentages of women’s participation in the communal councils. All five communes in the province, namely Cankuzo, Gendajuru, Gisagara, Kigamba, and Mishiha, have reached the 30 percent quota. Out of the total 83 communal chiefs, however, only four are women. The Localization workshop we were to hold was the second phase of GNWP’s Localization Program in Burundi. During the opening of the workshop the Governor of Cankuzo proudly stated that he has made a point of including more women in decision making during his tenure.
GNWP’s Localization Program is a bottom-up approach to policy-making that aligns local, national and international policies, and community driven strategies, to ensure local ownership, good governance, participation and linkages between local communities, civil society organizations and government in the work around UNSCR 1325, 1820 and the supporting resolutions on women and peace and security. In his speech at the opening of the Cankuzo workshop, the Deputy Minister of Finance and Planning noted that, “participation of many stakeholders is crucial in the decentralization process, and that local people expect the local politicians to address their needs.”
GNWP’s Localization on UNSCR 1325 program was first piloted in Burundi in 2010 when GNWP and its members, including Women Allies Peacebuilders Network, Fountain ISOKO for Good Governance and Integrated Development, and Burundi Leadership Training Program, held the first series of Localization workshops in the Gitega and Ngozi provinces as well as the capital, Bujumbura. The participants included governors, mayors, community leaders, traditional and religious leaders, the security sector, and women leaders. The workshops served as basic awareness-raising on UNSCR 1325 and 1820 and the Burundi National Action Plan (NAP), which at the time was a draft waiting for adoption, as well as an opportunity to come up with specific strategies for implementation of the NAP when adopted.
One of the main recommendations of the 2010 workshops in Gitega and Ngozi was to come up with a set of guidelines for integration of the Burundi NAP and UNSCR 1325 and 1820 into communal development plans. A document entitled Guide Pratique pour l’Intégration des Résolutions 1325 et 1820 du Conseil de Sécurité des Nations Unies dans les Plan Communaux de Développement Communautaires au Burundi was subsequently drafted by the two consultants who had served as resource persons in the 2010 workshops. With the objective to solicit concrete input from the participants on the content and usefulness of the document, the document was to be field tested in a provincial level workshop in Cankuzo and in a communal workshop in Cibitoke situated on the border to the DRC, the following week.
The workshop included a session on the notion of gender, discussions of the two resolutions and the Burundi National Action Plan on 1325 and 1820, presentations on the role of communal councils in implementation of issues of women and peace and security, and sessions on the actual guidelines.
Participants agreed that having a document that would guide local communities in the implementation of the NAP and the resolutions would be beneficial, but recommended that a shortened and more user-friendly version be made available. The necessity of translating all policy related materials into Kirundi was also highlighted repeatedly.
In addition to coming up with recommendations on how to improve the guidelines, participants made other recommendations in order to operationalize the Localization of UNSCR 1325 and 1820 Guidelines. Some recommendations included putting in place committees at the colline level, including female leaders, to monitor actions taken to integrate the WPS resolutions into communal planning; forming Community and Family Development Centers with the mandate to conduct awareness raising on UNSCR 1325 and 1820 and the Burundi NAP; advocating for the Ministries of Finance and Planning; Interior; and National Solidarity, Human Rights and Gender to prepare a joint statement inviting municipalities to incorporate in UNSCR 1325 and1820 into the communal development planning process; and including the Guideline on UNSCR 1325 and 1820 integration into the “Handbook for Municipal Planning.
The guidelines that have been endorsed by the Government (Ministry of Finance and Planning) will serve as a reference for local authorities in integrating the NAP 1325 and 1820 into community development plans. GNWP and its partners hope to be able to further field test the Guidelines in an additional three regional workshops in 2013, in order to guarantee full local ownership of the document.
GNWP and its members and partners in Burundi thank the Government of Canada for supporting the Localization Program in Burundi.