Adolescents and Violence: Lessons from Burundi

Burundi has one of the youngest and poorest populations in the world. Known as a rural-based nation, its urban growth rate is among the world’s highest. These defining characteristics of contemporary Burundi shaped field research on the state of Burundian adolescents and the role of violence in their lives. The research, undertaken in late 2012, found a profusion of young Burundians threatened by deprivation and domestic and sexual violence. Most receive limited social and state protection and have difficulty remaining in school, finding work or securing adulthood. In the countryside, strong cultural traditions and a weak state facilitate the mistreatment of orphans and girls who become unmarried mothers. In Bujumbura, many adolescents arrive alone and are vulnerable to exploitation. Their condition is underscored by girl prostitutes called Toto Show and the Manjema men who “eat” them. 

Adolescents and Violence contrasts factors and specific populations that might fuel violent conflict with countervailing factors that have the potential to promote peace. The discussion paper ends by highlighting twelve lessons, drawn from the field research in Burundi, that promise to powerfully impact post-war development and reconstruction work in other countries.

Published 2019-01-08