DW Akademie's work in Burundi focuses on two main areas: strengthening local radio stations in remote parts of the country and providing media literacy training to students, activists and community journalists.
It was only recently that Burundi broke with its long tradition of maintaining a vibrant media landscape where journalists could engage in critical reporting and freely express their opinions. In 2015, violent clashes broke out in the country triggered by President Pierre Nkurunziza's announcement that he intended to stand for a third term, and by his controversial re-election in July. Government and opposition supporters were murdered, setting off a still-simmering conflict.
Since the crisis began, several hundred Burundians have been killed and more than 250,000 have fled the country. This is a political rather than an ethnic conflict, with those supporting the President's third term in office squaring off against those who don't. There is the danger however, that the crisis could be exploited by those wanting to revive old ethnic tensions, pitting Hutus against Tutsis.
In May 2015, elements within the armed forces attempted a coup, during which the four most influential private broadcasters (RPA, Bonesha FM, Radio Isanganiro and Radio Télé Renaissance) came under fire from heavy weapons. The pro-government station, Radio Rema FM, was itself attacked by demonstrators. Following the coup attempt, numerous journalists fled abroad.
DW Akademie's work in Burundi focuses on two main areas: strengthening local radio stations in remote parts of the country, often the only source of information for the rural population, and providing media literacy training to students, activists and community journalists. Together with popular local radio stations such as La Voix de la Femme, DW Akademie is developing strategies to promote conflict-sensitive, interactive and locally relevant reporting.
Moreover, DW Akademie is offering guidance and support in the development of targeted programming for women and young people as well as of alternate sources of funding. DW Akademie is also advising reporters and media managers from Burundi and neighboring Rwanda and Eastern Congo on the value of sensitive reporting in the conflict-ridden region.
In another initiative, DW Akademie is continuing its cooperation with the Dutch non-governmental organization Free Press Unlimited (FPU), to help media workers and community journalists hone their social media and mobile reporting skills with the aid of the "StoryMaker" app.
Funding sources: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country coordinator: Carine Debrabandère
Locations: Bujumbura, Giheta
Local partners: Association des Femmes Journalistes du Burundi (AFJO), Centre Jeunes Kamenge, Association Dushirehamwe, La Voix de la Femme, Eirene Grands Lacs, Institut Panos Grands Lacs (IPGL), Lycée du Saint-Esprit, Maison de la Presse du Burundi, Radio Colombe
Focal points: Professionalism and economic sustainability of the media sector, civic engagement, media literacy, participation of disadvantaged population groups, (local) participatory media offerings and community media, conflict and media/ conflict-sensitive reporting, business models and economic sustainability, professionalism and networks in journalism