Helping the landless

With our partners Rema Ministries, we are helping refugees who have returned to Burundi to reclaim their land. We are training Church leaders from different denominations in land conflict and restitution. Equipped with these skills, they are supporting returnee women and unaccompanied orphans to undergo the process of land recovery.

We are helping the landless in Makamba, an area next to the Tanzania border where over 50% of the land is contested. Rema’s activities focus on the long term reintegration of forced migrants and returnees. Together, we are buildilng returnees’ understanding of ancestral rights and the confidence needed to solve their own problems through constructive dialogue.

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Following the displacement of more than half a million people due to violent conflict in the 1970s and 1990s, Burundi faces a delicate national-level problem of land ownership that sees returnees demanding full restitution of ancestral lands from second-occupants. Rema’s activities focus on the long term reintegration of forced migrants and returnees, and their overall strategy is to provide support to displaced people so that they can build the confidence needed to solve their own problems through constructive dialogue and advocacy.

We are working with Rema to train Church leaders in the Pastoral Circle Model, which involves drawing on experience of a social issue and analysing the causes, followed by a judgement based on theological reflection and finally one’s own moral values. Returnees then benefit from this training through community forums lead by the Church leaders, in which they can discuss and better understand the laws and policies concerning their land. These forums are gradually building a platform for reconciliation between returnees and second owners, who are able to listen to one another’s frustrations to reach a solution. Church leaders are now providing ongoing support to returnee women and unaccompanied orphans in the process of land recovery.

Training respected church leaders on the awareness of land restitution and land conflicts provides concrete, sustainable support networks for those who are trying to re-claim their ancestral land.

Find out more about Helping the landless

Project update: six months in, how is the project developing?

As of March 2017, we have mobilised community forums, with a range of representatives including returnees, current occupants and CNTB officials, and they’ve helped identify the first tranche of people we are supporting. We are currently working closely with 100 vulnerable women and orphans to begin the official resettlement process. We are really pleased to announce that the project is going very well. You can read our full news update here.