Promoting behaviour change through faith leaders in Burundi

Promoting behaviour change through faith leaders in Burundi

Harmful traditional social norms can violate people’s rights, reinforce inequalities, cause and exacerbate poor health and act as a barrier preventing certain groups from accessing health services.

We recognise the role of faith leaders in influencing how people behave, and in challenging harmful cultural norms, including gender-based violence, HIV and family planning issues, and supporting men and women to make healthier choices for their families and communities.

As respected, trusted and well-known members of their communities, faith leaders are influential in guiding cultural and social norms and practices.  

How we helped

Recognising the role that faith leaders play in influencing communities, Christian Aid and our partners worked with the Burundi Network of Religious Leaders living with or affected by AIDS, (BUNERELA+).

We supported the SAVE approach - safer practices, access to treatment, voluntary counselling and testing and empowerment.

BUNERELA+ has been influential in using the SAVE approach to encourage greater openness and promote good practices around HIV prevention, care and support.

We provided faith leaders with training and messages about the importance of family planning, sexual and reproductive health rights and raised their awareness about discrimination against ethnic minorities and people living with HIV and AIDS.

We think that we are really moving forward and we are proud of our members as they know more about HIV, family planning and gender violence.

Hilaire Barahiraje

Pastor of New life Church in Jesus Christ on the outskirts of Bujumbura, Burundi

The impact

Over the five years of PPA funding, we reached 37,643 people (23,006 women) in Burundi.

Through this work, we have seen a reduction in stigma for people living with HIV, positive shifts in gender norms and faith leaders being more engaged in speaking out against gender-based violence (GBV) in their parishes and congregations.

In the last year, 70% of 21,121 people living with HIV surveyed indicated being members of a support group (up from 46% at baseline), and reported benefits including increased income, access to information, moral support and reduced stigma and self-stigma.

To date, 80 religious leaders are integrating gender-based violence messages into their sermons, challenging perpetrators and encouraging referrals for survivors. 

Explore other PPA impact stories

Reports and resources

Recommends how faith leaders can support Ebola recovery in Sierra Leone and Liberia, and discusses the broader role of faith in humanitarian response.

A reflection by the ACT Alliance Humanitarian Policy and Practice Advisory Group on the unique role of faith-based organisations in humanitarian cr