Psychosocial Interventions, Peacebuilding, and Development in Rwanda

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Friday 8 December 2023

Gitau, Lydia, and Wendy Lambourne. 2013. Journal of Peacebuilding & Development 8, no. 3: 23-36.  

This source is an article produced by two Australian psychologists specialising in post-conflict interventions, Lydia Gitau and Wendy Lambourne, for the Journal of Peacebuilding & Development. The piece focuses on the integration of psychosocial interventions, aimed at fostering the resilience and cohesion needed to allow survivors of violent conflict to reconnect with their community and culture, into large-scale peacebuilding efforts. Contemporary peacebuilding frameworks are often criticised for an excessive state focus that develops and strengthens institutions, not individual or community resilience. The context of Rwanda offers a particularly powerful example of this. Despite numerous institutional steps to address the long-term effects of the genocide, ranging from the development of national civic education to the employment of traditional gacaca trials to promote communal justice, the state remains far from a ‘nation at peace’, a reality a reality exacerbated by a continued lack of social trust among its ethnic groups. The value of this article, thus, lies in its introduction of a novel approach in which psychosocial interventions complement large-scale, top-down reforms implemented in the aftermath of conflict. Though certainly a polarising example, faith-based NGOs have played crucial roles in these interventions, bringing together participants into shared workshops aimed at addressing feelings of mistrust among Tutsi survivors and confronting the shame displayed by Hutus. Such programmes centre around trauma education, in which participants are afforded a space in which to understand and relate to one another’s experiences, while also being granted the opportunity to cement these personal, cross-group connections through shared projects such as goat-raising or faming. Ultimately, the provision of institutional goods and services are simply one facet of post-conflict peacebuilding, with psychosocial interventions serving as a vital means of ensuring that the physical, psychological, spiritual, and relational needs of population emerging from inter-group violence are similarly met.

Link: https://www.jstor.org/stable/48603463

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