Journal Article
Development assistance and the lasting legacies of rebellion in Burundi and Rwanda

Rwanda and Burundi have both emerged from civil wars over the past 20 years and foreign donors have provided significant contributions to post-conflict reconstruction and development in the two countries. Yet, although Rwanda and Burundi share several important characteristics, their post-conflict social, political and economic trajectories have been different. This article argues that the nature of the ruling parties in Rwanda and Burundi is key to understanding the countries’ relationships with donors. Rather than seeing aid as an exogenous factor, causing particular development outcomes, it shows how local party elites exert considerable agency over the aid relationship. This agency is influenced by a number of different local contextual factors, including how the parties were established, how they evolved and the ways in which their civil wars ended. Thus, the article provides an analysis of how local context matters in understanding donor–recipient aid relationships, and how the ruling party in Rwanda (the RPF) and in Burundi (the CNDD–FDD) emerged from their respective conflicts with different relationships with international donors.

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