Quaker Network for the Prevention of Violent Conflict
Le Réseau de quaker pour l'Empêchment de Conflit Violent


Change Agent Peace Programme (CAPP) 2004
A Quaker-sponsored Peace Training Program in the African Great Lakes Region



The Change Agent Peace Programme (CAPP) is a peace training and education program undertaken by the Quaker churches in four countries in the Great Lakes region of Central Africa. The countries currently with CAPP programs are Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi and DR Congo. The program is supported by Quaker Service Norway and has partnerships with other peace programs (the Mennonite Central Committee is a major partner) and other international agencies. The objectives of CAPP are to provide training and support to projects in local and national communities in these four countries of the Great Lakes region to enable local partners to lead in the building of democratic practices and institutions, in strengthening the protection of human rights, and in supporting the peaceful resolution of conflicts in their societies.

Target Groups

CAPP’s projects work with community leadership, schools, refugees and displaced persons, youth and women’s groups, and ethnic groups in divided communities. The focus of the CAPP training is human rights, conflict management, democracy building and the improvement of community cohesion and cooperation, including critical issues such as HIV/AIDS awareness. A basic training model introduces project groups to this basket of peace-building concepts and exercises them in facilitating a “participatory approach” for awareness raising and training of wider groups. A central focus of the Change Agent Peace Programme is the preparation and empowering of local capacities for peace building.

A second element to CAPP, in addition to the community-level peace training, is the promotion of communication between peace builders and policy makers.

At local and national levels CAPP projects work directly with those responsible for the maintenance of security and justice, and for the implementation of national policies for reconciliation. In Rwanda, for example, this includes interaction with the government’s National Unity and Reconciliation Commission; also providing headquarters and training for the national ecumenical peace committee, and giving leadership to the national NGO/UN peace cooperative known as The Coexistence Network. In another example, from Burundi, the CAPP program leaders have close contact with the parties to the Arusha peace process, both from the governmental and the opposition sides, and in 2004 CAPP is working with these contacts in developing policies and programs for repatriation, demobilisation and resettlement of the diverse elements reuniting in Burundian society.

At the regional level CAPP is working on the exploration and interpretation for policy makers of several important issues. Together with the Quaker United Nations Offices in New York and Geneva, we are helping to plan the third in a series of international seminars on demand factors in small arms trafficking in Central Africa and community controls on the proliferation of small arms. Another major initiative in 2004 will be CAPP’s participation in the launching of a non-governmental Congo Peace Forum for the Democratic Republic of Congo, to work parallel with the officially appointed “Commission on Truth and Reconciliation” linked to preparing for elections in 2005.


The CAPP program in Rwanda is centered at  the Friends Peace House (Urugo Rw’amahoro), established in 2001 by the EEAR (Rwanda Friends Church) with support from Mennonite Central Committee and CAPP. The Urugo program is focused on consolidation of peace work around the themes of the release of prisoners, demobilisation of soldiers and reintegration of these and other victims of the fractured society  (unaccompanied children, widows, families of prisoners) back into communities.

The Rwanda CAPP program has developed a wide base of community peace committees and trained teams among women, men and youth in Rwanda, with particular focus on the provinces of Kigali, Cyangugu, Ruhengeri and Gisenyi. 2003 saw the initiation of the Gacaca process (the traditional local tribunals) with the release from prison of some 40,000 persons accused of crimes of genocide. The local tribunals are expected to deal with another 80,000 cases in the next eighteen months. The number of those to be reintegrated into communities is swelled by the return of refugees from Congo and Tanzania and the demobilisation of Rwandan military forces with the budding peace in DR Congo and elsewhere in the region.


Developments in the peace process in Burundi, after extremely difficult years since the crisis in 1994, are leading to more stable and secure conditions in the country, at the same time that a number of new challenges arise: the repatriation of refugees, many of whom have been up to ten years in Tanzanian camps; the demobilisation of military forces, both regular and irregular; and the reintegration into communities of these groups and the others who have been internally displaced or locally split by the polarised situation.

The Burundi CAPP program will concentrate on these themes in 2004, building on the excellent contacts that the Friends Church has with actors on all sides of the national crisis. One of the main partners in projects supported by CAPP is MiPAREC (Mission for Peace and Reconciliation), a peace training and resource center in Gitega, the old, highlands capital. Founded through the Friends Church, with major support from MCC, MiPAREC has been building and supporting community peace committees in a number of strategically critical zones through central Burundi since 1996. They have recently been active, with CAPP support, in opening dialogue with leaders in the cantonment camps for demobilising soldiers.  In 2004 the strengthening of community peace committees in the “collines” is planned, to function as “regional peace offices” located in four critical zones of central Burundi, to include help with maintaining a small office to serve as referral centers for community problems.

An additional area of the CAPP Burundi program previewed for 2004 is a follow-up with ten schools on building peace education into curricula. This will involve both training of school leaders and teachers, and the continued development of peace teaching materials for teachers and students following on the training project led by CAPP’s education consultant in Burundi and Rwanda in July-August, 2003.

At the start of  2004 a delegation from the peace committees of the Friends Church around the country travelled to the refugee camps in Tanzania to explore strategies and partners for peace-building opportunities in repatriation and reintegration. Some funds in this year’s CAPP budget for Burundi will provide items of basic assistance in cases of particular need to support the reintegration of demobilised soldiers and repatriated refugees into communities.


In DR Congo as well, rapid recent advances in the peace process are opening new demands and possibilities for peace work that the DRC-CAPP program is positioned to address. In South Kivu, each of the five CAPP projects in the major zones of the province are addressing crisis recovery and the reintegration of demobilized military forces (irregulars from several factions) in addition to their general program of community peace building. Over the past three years these five district projects have built up between ten and fifteen local peace committees (noyaux de paix) in each zone. In many places these noyaux have grown to thirty or forty members, which for districts with widespread rural settlement patterns fills an enormous gap in the lack of citizen based organisations (CBOs), bringing people together across ethnic and geographical lines that have been divided by the long war. The training content of these projects, transmitted in regular meetings several times per month, focuses on understanding and managing conflicts, building community cohesion through respect for rights and reconciliation, and on local problems including HIV/AIDS, nutrition, land use and literacy. In 2003 the national constitution and the Pretoria peace program for DRC have been translated and discussed in all the noyaux. Various communal cooperative activities are supported, including raising and sharing livestock, rebuilding devastated housing and communal cultivation (cassava, beans and forage crops). A number of cases are reported where the CAPP leaders (each zone has two co-coordinators -a woman and a man, and twelve to fifteen trained facilitators working with individual groups) have been asked to help settle local disputes: for example the placement of a health dispensary which was being fought over by rival groups in the Mienge, Haut Plateau zone; in this case the location was settle based on maximising accessibility, and the groups have signed a written agreement, celebrated by a shared meal.

Two general elements of the 2004 CAPP program in South Kivu are a focus on sensitising local authorities, and a project towards building support for the re-constitution of traditional tribunals at local levels. These tribunals are perceived by local peace committees to be necessary to manage the difficult questions of land tenure and use, resettlement, the care and protection of unaccompanied children, and the preparation of local communities in democracy-building towards national elections planned for 2005.


The North Kivu CAPP program is in a process of restructuring as the momentous political and social changes associated with the reconsolidation of the national state have had particular impact in the Goma district.

There are several strong elements of the North Kivu CAPP program that are being strengthened, one being the women’s program combining women’s rights advocacy with community integration and skills-building for diverse ethnic groups among the displaced population in Goma. This project has been built around the Atelier de Paix, a small communal workshop with programs for a diverse ethnic mix in literacy, family health, sewing (school clothes and other children’s apparel) and women’s rights and their role in peace-building

The other major focus in North Kivu is the CAPP youth mobilisation program in the heavily contested zones of Masisi in the highlands interior (an area approximately the size of Rwanda). The foundation of community peace committees laid by CAPP projects is in the ethnic diversity their membership and the challenges they are addressing for local demobilisation of military forces in Masisi. The local CAPP-initiated peace committees in Kitshanga, Muheto and Nyamitaba are made up of members from the Hunde, Hutu (Congolese), Nandi and Tutsi tribes, including women and men and both current and prior military personnel. Another indication of diversity is that members come from six different churches, institutions that are generally split along ethnic lines. Care and protection for unaccompanied children, and literacy training for youth and for women of all ages who have missed schooling, have been taken on as themes for community groups. Crisis recovery projects involving cross-ethnic youth groups -both for meeting humanitarian needs and to build group coherence- accompanies the training, include sawing planks for house construction, gardening and furniture making, all supported by small capital initiation grants from CAPP.


The Kenya-CAPP program has built a substantial base and has undertaken a consolidation and refocus of CAPP activities in 2004. Over the past two years Kenya-CAPP has established trained peace committees in seventeen districts across the country. These are led by a group of advanced trainers (“trainers of trainers” or ToTs), numbering some 110, who have specialised skills of community sensitisation and training on good governance, respect for human rights and conflict management, and a secondary group of an additional 15 to 25 persons in each district that have been trained by these ToTs in 2002 and 2003.

The 2004 program has been defined with several critical focus points.

1) Continued focus on the creation of core groups of capable and experienced leaders for each district, to be supported by refresher courses for leaders, including the sending of four ToTs from CAPP Kenya for advanced training at the African Peace Institute in Mindolo, Zambia.

2) A window for district peace committees to address critical human rights and democracy issues within their districts. CAPP groups have engaged in some very interesting projects in these areas in 2003, including inter-tribal conflict mediation and mediation of conflicts between the pirate taxi vans (matatus) and local authorities in Bware district; work with slum youth in Nairobi; and the incorporation of broader, multi-ethnic and inter-religious community representation in local governance in Mombasa.

We note that Kenya is among the neediest of the societies in which CAPP operates in the Great Lakes region. The tentative and fragile shift to democracy in December 2002 needs to be supported by all possible means.

Read also ...

Feasibility of doing peace work in situations of violent conflict in the context of the current situation in the DRC, by Bridget Butt


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Martin Struthmann, Quaker Peace Centre, 3 Rye Road, Mowbray, Cape Town 7700, South Africa
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