Burundi Study Trip: Revised Proposal


European Commission Stagiaires - DG ECHO
March 1-15, 2007

Revised Proposal
PDF version

1. Background and Rationale

The official in-service training with the Commission of the European Union (EU) aims to provide trainees with a unique, first-hand experience of the workings of the European Commission in particular, and of the EU institutions in general. It also aims to give trainees an opportunity to acquire practical experience and knowledge of the day-to-day work of the Commission Departments and Services.

Twice a year, during a 5-month period, around 10 trainees are granted the opportunity to work within the DG Humanitarian Aid (ECHO). The training introduces to young graduates the conceptual and political analysis of humanitarian issues in a vast array of countries.

Most of this assistance is provided outside of the EU, in an environment which for most trainees is understood only in theory. In order to get a full picture of EU humanitarian aid, a tradition has developed to organise a study trip at the end of the traineeship period, as a culminating event and a unique opportunity to:
· visit on the ground the implementation of EU projects that up until now have been purely theoretical;
· increase the understanding of the practical effects of EU humanitarian aid;
· learn about different countries and experience diverse cultures.

The study trip is organised and fundraised by the trainees themselves (in cooperation with the Traineeship Committee of the EC) and takes place after the traineeship to a destination of their choice. Upon completion of the trip, a report is compiled by the trainees and widely presented within the Commission.

Former trainees have visited Senegal, Mali, South Africa and Malawi, among many other countries.

We, the group of the 2006/07 winter stage, recognize the invaluable experience and unique opportunity of such a trip.

Having worked on a range of different aspects in European humanitarian aid policy from a theoretical perspective in Brussels, we would thus like to round up this experience by focusing on the practical implementation of EU humanitarian aid projects. This trip will not only enable us to gain a deeper understanding of humanitarian and development issues but also to see the reality on the ground in a country evolving from a conflict.

The dates for the trip are the first two weeks of March 2007 (1st-15th March). We have already been in contact with the EC delegation and ECHO field experts in Burundi, of which both have endorsed the trip and expressed their willingness to help and support us in term of coordination and contact with relevant NGOs and international organizations.

2. Why Burundi?

Burundi, a country still suffering from the aftermath of 12 years of a violent civil conflict, provides an interesting terrain to experience close-up various humanitarian and development-related issues involved. Since 1993, the continuing social and political crisis has generated a massive displacement of civil population, leading to an extreme increase of the level of poverty. Burundi is among the poorest countries in the world, with more than 60% of the population living below the poverty line.

Implication of considerable humanitarian aid of the European Commission in this barely known country has been an important aspect that led us to choose Burundi as the destination for the study trip.

3. Burundi: Country profile

The Republic of Burundi is a small country in the Great Lakes region of Africa. The country is bordered by Rwanda on the north, the Democratic Republic of Congo on the west, and Tanzania on the east. Although the country is landlocked, much of its western border is adjacent to Lake Tanganyika.

The country often called "the heart of Africa" lies on a rolling plateau, with Lake Tanganyika in its south west part. The average elevation of the central plateau is 1,700 metres, with lower elevations at the borders. The highest peak, Mount Karonje (2,685 m), lies to the southeast of the capital, Bujumbura.

Political landscape after the civil war
Politics of Burundi takes place in a framework of a transitional presidential representative democratic republic, whereby the President of Burundi is both head of state and head of government. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the two chambers of parliament, the Senate and the National Assembly.

The political landscape of Burundi has been dominated in recent years by the civil war and a long peace process (Arusha Agreements signed in 2001) and has moved to democracy. The current President of Burundi is Pierre Nkurunziza, a former rebel leader of the Hutu National Council for the Defence of Democracy who was elected by the parliament on 19 August 2005. Nkurunziza was the first president chosen through democratic means since the start of the civil war in 1993 and was sworn in on 26 August, replacing transitional president Domitien Ndayizeye.

Burundi is one of the poorest countries in Africa. The economy is almost entirely agricultural, with most engaged in subsistence farming, growing beans, cassava, corn, and plantains. Coffee, Burundi's chief export, accounts for 80% of its foreign exchange income. Cotton, tea, and hides are also exported. Cattle, goats, and sheep are raised.
The country's few manufactures include basic consumer goods, such as processed food, beverages, clothing, and footwear. Heavy industry is government-owned. Burundi relies on international aid for economic development and has incurred a large foreign debt.

The inhabitants of Burundi are divided among three ethnic groups: the Hutus (85%), the Tutsis (14%), who despite their relatively small numbers have historically dominated the government and the army, and the Twa (Pygmies, about 1%).
French and Kirundi are both official languages, while Swahili is also spoken.
About two thirds of the people are Christian, mostly Roman Catholic; the rest follow traditional beliefs. There is a university in Bujumbura.
The population density of around 315 persons per square kilometre is the second highest in Sub-Saharan Africa, behind only Rwanda.

In 2006, DG ECHO supported humanitarian operations in Burundi with an amount of 17 million euros with a considerable impact on the vulnerable parts of the population. ECHO has funded operations such as

  • support to Food Aid, or Relief and Recovery programmes in Burundi;
  • ICRC protection activities;
  • seeds for IDPs and vulnerable population;
  • cash for work and resilience programme;
  • other water and sanitation, health and agriculture-focused activities.
In 2007, particular attention is given to vulnerable groups throughout the country with an increasing focus on LRRD initiatives and on activities linked to the re-installation of repatriated refugees.

During our prospective visit to Burundi, we would enjoy the opportunity to visit various projects implemented by ECHO’s partner organizations (such as FAO, CARITAS Belgique, MSF, UNHCR, Cordaid, CRS, ICRC or GVC).

More specifically, we are aiming at visiting some of the bellow listed projects of various humanitarian NGOs and international organizations:

  • MSF Belgique: support of hospital in Buhiga in the province of Karuzi

  • MSF Holland: support of the hospital of Kininya in the province of Ruyigi

  • Caritas Belgique: cash-for-work project in the province of Gitega, Muramwya and Muyinga

  • Solidarités: water and sanitation project in the provinces of Cankuzo and Bujumbura Rural

  • Cordaid: development project (Performance Based Financing) in Bubanza Hospital

  • UNHCR: visit of one of refugee sites in Gasorwe/Mugano (Muyinga province) and Mbuye and Gihinga (Mwaro), or transit camps in Mabanda (province of Makamba), Gisuru (Ruyigi) or Mugano (Muyinga)

  • WFP: Food for Work programme - food distribution at various sites

  • ACF: nutritional programme run in Buye (Ngozi province)

  • CRS: cash-for-work project of in the Province of Kirundo

  • GVC: Emergency Agricultural Support to Vulnerable Persons in Kirundo, therapeutic nutritional centre in Gatumba

  • IRC: Musasa Site Pumping System for Rwandan Asylum Seekers (province of Ngozi)

  • DanChurchAid: demining activities in Bujumbura Rural

  • ICRC: water & sanitation project in Gatumba, promotion of IHL in cooperation with Universities, local authorities etc .

  • A theatre play "Les Hutsis" of Pili-Pili group, directed by Patrice Faye as well as his project focused on Batwa population (Pygmies)

  • ACTEC Belgique/COPED: development projects such as the Ecole Technique Secondaire de Kiryama

  • Studio Ijambo – a local radio run by the Search for Common Ground (SFCG)

  • The Duhindikibiri women project in Ruvumu village

  • Projects of other NGOs (VIS, Handicap International, Jesuit Refugee Service, OPDE, Care, Concern, Tearfund etc.)

In addition, it would be very interesting to have a possibility to visit offices of other humanitarian and development actors such as OCHA, FAO, UNICEF or BINUB in order to gain an insight into coordination mechanisms of respective activities.

5.1 Budget Breakdown

* All figures in Euros (€) for 4 participants
** Included: Hepatitis A and B, Tetanus-diphtheria, Typhoid, Yellow fever, Meningococcus, Measles -mumps- rubella (MMR), malaria pills.

Most local fundraising activities are conducted by the ECHO stagiaires in cooperation with their colleagues from DG AIDCO (study trip to Morocco). Both groups have a fundraising coordinator and a number of trainees that undertook the following activities together (those three categories formed sub-committees of the fund raising group):

1. Selling own products

This includes T-Shirts, mugs or umbrellas. Selling activities will mainly focus on trainee-events such as parties, conferences etc. The market targeted is mainly the other stagiaires but also Commission staff. We plan to first order about 100 T-shirts with a possibility of more if the demand is higher. As concerns the motives for the products we want to include things like the name of the EC and the DGs involved, and the Winter Session 2006/2007. Ideally, we could save money by using our own contacts (this is an urgent task for the fundraising committee).

2. Organizing our own party

We planned to organize a party in January or February (exact date needs to be confirmed with the Stage Committee) as a main source of funding for our study trips – ideally, we organized a thematic party, on Africa and related to our respective trips. (The party took place on 21st January 2007, in Barrio Café, Brussels. For more details see the party leaflet)

3. Activities for Christmas / Valentines

Most people are particularly generous during the Christmas holidays and we used this time for fundraising by selling cards, chocolate, flowers (in addition to our own products as mentioned above).

In addition, there were a number of ideas that could have been done either separately or jointly such as the selling of African arts or jewellery, the organization of a lottery, the collection of (used) books or the selling of plants/food/drinks in our respective DGs:

"Ethnic" Jewellery:
We have several ways to get jewels or little objects from Africa or India at a cheap price. It is something that can be sold during the party we organize, or whenever else (during some other events, or make this objects available at sale in the DGs, in some other place, available all the time).

Every stagiaire is baking something at home, and we sell it in the cafeteria at lunch time (with a clear signal it is for our mission)

An important question concerns the distribution of profits for all activities that are conducted jointly by the different DGs. We agreed that for all joint fundraising we will distribute the profits according to the following calculation:

Of the total sum of funds raised each side (ECHO &. AIDCO) can keep 40 % of the common money for sure. The remaining 20 percent will be divided per capita among all those from the three DGs that will go for real to the study trip. Weighing all the pros and cons of the different models we agreed that this would be the fairest way to manage our common funds. A contract will be signed between the two groups about this financial agreement with further details. We will also open our own joint bank account for the common money that will be managed by the two treasurers of our groups.

The sponsorship group is composed of 2 stagiaires with the aim of raising funds from business companies and foundations. We started our activities with setting up a list of companies that may be involved in the trip (directly or indirectly) so that we will be able to offer them something in return.

In this regard we will also take into account the corporate social responsibility of the respective companies. Their relationship to sustainable development is also an important issue.

We expect to rise about 60% of our total budget from business companies. A list of companies is born, but a detailed research is further needed.

After preparing the documentation that includes the budget and details on the study trip to Rwanda, the first companies that will be contacted are those which already have a funding history with DG Development. Contact with the other companies will follow. An important aspect of our activity is the follow-up of each case. In this context, we are keen to submit any further documentation if requested by the potential sponsors.

After the study trip and in cooperation with the Programming group we will write a report on the activities in which we participated in Tanzania. A letter to thank and inform the sponsors will follow.

Angela Alvarez (Colombia)
Francesca Dragoni (France/Italy)
Eva Maňasová (Czech Republic)
Annie Raykov (USA/Bulgaria)