In early 2015, Burundi, a small country in Central-East Africa, was a few months away from a presidential election, which was forecasted to be contentious and potentially violent. A team from Humanity United (HU) flew to Burundi, assessed the situation, and quickly determined that a rapid investment in civil society and information reporting was critical. The country was teetering on the brink of conflict, but there were key gaps HU felt they could positively fill to help prevent an outbreak of mass violence.
Humanity United made grants to a variety of local and international civil society organizations working in diverse sectors and utilizing diverse strategies to try to reduce the risk for mass violence. HU discovered that as a private philanthropic organization, they added two main things to the field: early intervention before widespread violence erupted and capacity building that will help Burundian organizations prevent violence in increasingly difficult circumstances.
After six months of this grantmaking strategy, an HU team returned to Burundi to take stock of the strategy’s achievements and weaknesses. Burundi experienced election-related violence, yet the HU team found that the engagement with local civil society and regional actors has left intact a peacebuilding community that is more resilient and better networked (locally, regionally and internationally) to respond to violence and the risk of violence.