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ESA Regional Hub Strategic Engagements in Burundi: Role of Local Governments in Prevention of Extremism, Hate and Polarisation

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On 17-18 April 2023, as part of its ongoing outreach to local governments and other key stakeholders in East and Southern Africa (ESA), the Strong Cities ESA Regional Hub, which is hosted by the East Africa Local Government Association (EALGA), met with representatives from a range of national and local government institutions in Bujumbura, Burundi, and held a roundtable on The Role of Local Governments in Prevention and Response to Extremism, Hate and Polarisation. Financed by the European Union (EU) under the auspices of STRIVE Cities, it brought together more than 20 city leaders, including mayors and local administrators, from twelve communes across Burundi, including Bukemba, Gitega, Kayanza, Makamba, Mukaza, Muramya, Muyinga, Ngozi, Nyabihanga, Rumonge, Rutana and Ruyigi. Representatives from the Burundi Association of Municipalities (ACO Burundi) were also present.

The roundtable was a first-of-its-kind convening of city leaders in Burundi specifically on the topic of the prevention of hate, polarisation and violent extremism. It is one in a series of such engagements that the Regional Hub is hosting across ESA to identify city needs and opportunities for collaboration with and between local governments, as part of its mission to enhance city-led prevention and mayoral leadership against hate, polarisation and extremism. It builds on the Regional Hub’s inaugural workshop, which was held in Kenya in October 2022 and brought together over 60 representatives from across ESA to introduce the Regional Hub, its mandate and pillars.

Throughout the programme, city leaders acknowledged the importance of placing prevention at the heart of their city’s development agenda, particularly in the context of the country’s history with inter-ethnic violence. The Chair of ACO Burundi underscored the importance of supporting Burundian cities with tools to do so, identifying Strong Cities as an important platform to give Burundian cities the opportunity “to learn but also to share our experience with other countries from across the region”.

The following themes emerged out of the panel discussions and breakout group sessions that took place: 

  1. Mayoral Leadership: Mayors and other city administrators across Burundi are driving policies and programmes that promote inclusivity and recognise the role of local governments in conflict prevention. However, while there is a clear understanding at the local leadership level of the impacts of hate and extremism, particularly in the context of Burundi’s history of inter-ethnic violence, there is limited awareness of the concrete role of mayors in preventing and responding to hate- and extremist-motivated violence specifically.


Event Report