Initiatives and Actions for Peace and Development (IAP) was created in November 2011 by a group of young Burundians who wanted to contribute to the building of peace and sustainable development in Burundi, by empowering young Burundian people and the establishment of permanent inter-ethnic dialogue.
IAP's mission is to equip young people with skills in project development and management by providing support and mentorship, whilst raising awareness of interethnic dialogue for social change among them.
By providing youth entrepreneurship skills and helping them create their own projects, IAP hopes to prevent political manipulation that is so common amongst the unemployed. The long-term objective of this group is to assist young people in becoming economically self-reliant and active citizens that can bring positive change.
The organisation is establishing diverse partnerships with both local and international groups to help advance its mission. Those partners include the United Network of Young Peace Builders, United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, Dekeyser and Friends Foundation, Green Chimneys School, Global Health Corps.
IAP's peace education initiative consists of open debates targeting pupils and students on diverse themes such us human rights, democracy, leadership. Two debates, including one regional gathering of young people from Rwanda, DRC, and Burundi, have been conducted so far in September and November 2012.
The regional conference aimed at raising awareness on the connection between peace and development. Participants exchanged their experiences from their respective countries where violent conflicts have fuelled underdevelopment. At the end of the conference, six regional project ideas were developed and presented by the participants. The projects ranged from a regional peace centre to a media project to advance youth initiatives in the region.
The second debate session focused on Burundi, where 25 young people, from different universities and secondary schools of Bujumbura, came together to inspire each other about the role of young people in achieving peace and sustainable development in Burundi. Here, young people emphasised the close connection between peace and development. However, they agreed that prior to any actions, young people need to shift their mindsets and be aware that real change will come from them. The participants stressed that positive values such as honesty, transparency, respect for human rights, truth and reconciliation should always guide projects aimed at achieving stability and development. The participants recommended that debate sessions for raising awareness of positive values within young people be held, and that a concrete plan should be developed for the 2013 year and ahead.
After the debate held in September and November on young people, self-development and peace in Bujumbura, IAP staff were impressed by the sense of awakening among participants. A few days later, they got an email from one of the participants saying: “Thank you for giving me this opportunity to change my mind’.
Three months training was offered to selected youth, where they were taught how to create and manage a business. Young people are provided with mentors and continuous support for the implementation of their small businesses, up to a year after the end of their formal training.