Following the coup attempt in Burundi in 2015, over 400 000 people fled the country, primarily to Tanzania. In recent years, many have returned which has caused immense socio-economic pressure on areas of pre-displacement and host communities in Burundi. Limited access to arable land and lack of livelihood opportunities on both sides of the border have created a fertile ground for instability. With the COVID-19 pandemic, the situation could be further aggravated as communities scramble amidst a shortage of resources. Mitigating risks to sustaining peace will require continued and scaled up work with a comprehensive cross-border and inter-agency peacebuilding approach.
UNDP coordinated the cross-boarder project between 2017 – 2019, which was implemented by IOM, UNHCR, UNDP and partners. In Tanzania, UNDP established a Community-Based Conflict Resolution mechanism between host communities and refugees, which resulted in a strengthened common understanding and resolution of conflicts over access to food, water and firewood. In Burundi, the 3 x 6 approach – which facilitates transitions from emergency assistance to sustainable livelihoods support – helped combine conflict mediation and legal aid to settle land disputes with sustainable income generating activities. A recent independent evaluation found that this support allowed communities to become self-reliant, as they were able to invest in productive assets through cooperative savings. To ensure that development gains are not lost during the COVID-19 pandemic, UNDP supports the UN System’s preparation and response plans by for example strengthening local governments’ capacities to provide holistic responses (Burundi), bolster livelihoods in the agriculture and horticulture sectors (Tanzania) and supporting the preparation of a post-crisis recovery strategy with the World Bank, African Development Bank, UNICEF and the interagency/donor group of economists (Burundi).