Reintegrating ex-combatants : an action research project in a Rwandan agricultural cooperative
Binenwa, Jean Bosco Nsengiyumva
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Post-conflict countries have a range of needs of interventions in the reconstruction efforts. These efforts require immediate, medium and long term interventions. DDR process require the immediate restoration of security which requires demobilization in the both the regular army and armed groups. Demobilized combatants need to be economically and socially re-integrated in their local communities. Therefore governments through demobilization commissions or programmes ensure that ex-combatant is re-integrated as matter of governments’ responsibility. In the specific case of this research, former members of armed groups from DRC and former RDF soldiers all members of an Agricultural cooperative based in Jabana (Kigali City) have been participants to this research which is by nature an action research project aiming most importantly on participation outputs oriented to learning. Before this project, economic, political, social and psychological dimensions among the ex-combatants were frustrating. However, after this project, the following were discovered: Economically, the approaches that have been used allowed ex-combatants to learn basic and necessary skills of creative entrepreneurship while working in corporate setting. Socially, this research discovered that the nature of research requires working in group settings in addition to personal and collective participation toward the attainment of the project’s objectives. Working in group settings is the social cohesion that originates from sharing common goals, interests, successes and failures if any. In addition, group members became best friends among themselves and relied on each other in time of need. At psychological level, ex-combatants have gained self-confidence, self-trust, and removal of past negative clichés that they used to hold against each other. Finally, in the implementation of this research, aspects of peace-building, together with unity and reconciliation and peace-building in its broad term has been witnessed from its outset to the concluding phase of the research. Recommendations were devised; some are formulated towards ex-combatants at individual level and others for RDRP.