Together with Unicef, BSF deploys the UpShift social entrepreneurship program in several sub-Saharan African countries, including Burundi, Uganda, and Benin. By providing them with four Ideas Cubes and 3,000 Kajou cards, we are accompanying nearly 50,000 adolescents and young adults aged 18 to 25 to give them the means to acquire professional skills in various areas: agriculture, crafts, etc. Facilitators set up training workshops so that young people can identify the challenges in their communities and brainstorm sustainable and innovative solutions to the problems they face.

With the support of the Dutch Embassy, BSF is in the process of deploying 155 Ideas Cube and 8,000 Kajou cards in youth centers, associations, and community centers throughout the country to facilitate access to sexual and reproductive health information for 100,000 youth and adolescents. In total, 1,250 resources were selected by the Ministry of Public Health and AIDS Control and made available in French and Kirundi.

Accompanied by BSF, many mediators and health professionals use this content to set up workshops on various themes: maternity, HIV prevention, family planning, the fight against unwanted pregnancies, and the prevention of gender-based violence. Resources on entrepreneurship and innovation are also available.

With the support of the French Development Agency (AFD), BSF is currently implementing a vast project to support refugees, displaced persons, returnees, and hosts in three countries: Burundi, Iraq, and Lebanon. Although the contexts of intervention are different, the objectives are shared in order to:

• Strengthen the quality of and access to education and training programs.
• Contribute to the protection and psychosocial wellbeing of users, especially the youth.
• Promote social cohesion and peace building for exiled and host populations.

To do this, BSF and its local operational partners are deploying three Ideas Box in Lebanon, one in Iraq and nine in Burundi, aimed at various audiences. Workshops on rights awareness, teaching French as a foreign language (FLE) and education in relation to the school curricula of the three respective countries are regularly offered. To date, the project has benefited nearly 40,000 people: children and youth aged 8 to 25, adults, leaders and members of the communities involved, education and protection professionals, etc.

In 2019, UNICEF called on Libraries Without Borders to launch and grow its UpShift program in Burundi in the village of Mayengo in Rumonge province where there are 50,000 climate migrants. A program focused on social innovation and entrepreneurship for young people, UpShift is designed to develop skills and increase the opportunities of young people considered to be disadvantaged, whether due to poverty, gender disability, ethnic identity, or any other reason. So far we have helped 50 people between 18 to 25 years old to identify the challenges faced by their communities and work together to create innovative solutions that will lead to improvements in their community, economy, or environment. The solutions that they create also contribute to fostering peace and social cohesion. UNICEF has trained several members of the LWB team on their UpShift program methodology and they are now considered to be mentors for the program.

LWB has also been able to draw from their own expertise drawn from the experience of the LWB Campus program. LWB Campus aims to improve libraries in French-speaking African countries and to support 33 young leaders from Cameroon, Senegal, and Côte d’Ivoire to create their own innovative library projects. This program has led to the implementation of several initiatives including a seed library, a digital library for hair salons, and an audio library for the blind and partially sighted. Although our support program in Mayengo finished in December 2019, young people continue to develop innovative solutions by using the content that was specifically chosen by our teams and uploaded onto the Ideas Cube server. LWB has now created a strategy document in collaboration with UNICEF to help young people develop their knowledge about specific issues such as ecology, market gardening, computer skills, and personal development, as well improve their core skills in areas such as math and French.

In partnership with the organization Giriyuja, we have implemented an Ideas Box in the Buterere and Kabondo neighborhoods in Bujumbura, allowing more than 300 young people to have access to high-quality educational tools and content in a safe place—all of which was selected by our team and discussed at length with our local partners and beneficiaries. In addition to allowing psycho-social assistants to more easily identify the most vulnerable children so that they can better help them in their academic reintegration and provide appropriate psychological aid, Ideas Box kits are also excellent tools for social cohesion. When the neighboring schools finish in the afternoon, the students and the children living in the streets meet up to play with their tablets, watch television, or compete to build the largest Jenga tower. This fosters reintegration into the community, while simultaneously challenging negative stereotypes and distrust. With the help of the facilitators, some of whom also used to live in the streets as children, activities are organized every day to teach math using the tablets, or to teach reading and writing. In 2019, thanks to the Ideas Box in Buterere, 600 children and adolescents were able to return to school.

With the help of ENABEL, the Belgian federal government’s development agency, Libraries Without Borders supports the professionalization of vocational training through new technologies, seeking to strengthen the empowerment of young adults. To this end, the association has set up Ideas Boxes in fourteen Vocational Training centers in the country whose customized content specific to the local context and to each center is dedicated to more than twenty sectors of trades. In order to ensure the sustainability of the project and the revitalization of the CEMs, we have trained the staff of these centers in the use of the tool – from its operation to the cultural mediation – and they are now able to autonomously plan training sessions, facilitation, and training with young people.

Libraries Without Borders supported three hundred training facilitators. In less than six months, more than 150 user sessions were organized in the CEM, reaching more than 1,000 people. Following the initial effects seen in Burundi, ENABEL renewed its support for LWB to replicate the project in four provinces in the DRC in 2020: Kisangani, Kasaï, South Subangui, and Katanga at the heart of the fifteen technical learning centers.

In Burundi, access to specific services for youth and adolescents for sexual and reproductive health is limited, as is access to reliable and quality information. This has serious consequences for the lives of young people. The outcomes are school dropouts following unwanted pregnancies and early marriage, often halting all hopes of education, opportunities, employment, and financial independence. Contributing to the struggle against this crisis, LWB will soon launch 25 Ideas Cube kits in several schools, youth and community centers, and health clinics, to support access to quality information on sexual and reproductive health among the young Burundis, especially adolescents.

In close collaboration with the ministry of Health and our local partners, our team selected many resources in French and Kirundi on sexual health and other themes drawn from the local context: not only art and culture, history and geography, but also nutrition, computer programming, hygiene, and combatting malaria. We will soon launch a new local partnership for the creation of awareness workshops based on the contents of the Ideas Cube. Thanks to the video and still cameras, users can also create their own content and share them with friends and family.

Burundi has around 100,000 refugees, most of whom are Congolese. In February 2014, Libraries Without Borders launched its first Ideas Box programs in Burundi, in partnership with the UN Human Rights Council  and the International Rescue Committee, in three Congolese refugee camps in Bwagiriza, Musasa, and Kavumu. 

More than seven years later, these media kits allow Congolese children every day to learn, create, and play. These are places of knowledge, refuge, and encounters where people can transcend their traumatic experiences.

Our work in Burundi

Ideas Box for Congolese Refugees in Burundi


Emergency & post-conflict

Start date





LWB began implementing the Ideas Box the African Great Lakes region in February 2014. Three Ideas Box have been deployed since in partnership with UNHCR in Congolese Refugee camps in Burundi: in Musasa, Kavumu and Bwagiriza and one mobile Ideas Box is shared between two communities in Makamba where returnees have settled  with support of the UNDP.

After only 6 months of operation, the feedback from the field was very positive. With over 24,000 visits in three months and nearly 3,300 registered users, the first two Ideas Box deployed to refugee camps in Burundi (Kavumu and Musasa) have proven hugely successful.

Community ownership of the device, its decisive support of education and the protection of children is already a certainty. Already, a fifth Ideas Box deployment is foreseen, and preparatory tasks for the expansion of the program to the DRC and Kenya took place in 2014.


  • The refugees living in the camps of Musasa, Kavumu and Bwagiriza (approximately 15,000 people)
  • The youth from the village of Makamba


Financial partners

Executive partners

Cultural centers in Burundi equipped with Koombook kits


Training & Capacity Building

Start date




TV5Monde cultural centers are a leading network in the promotion of cultural activities in Burundi. They allow the public to come to learn French and connect to the world. The arrival of the Koombooks in 4 of these centers (Bujumbura, Ngozi, Gitega et Bururi) will help revitalize the work already being undertaken in these centers by providing new and quality contents suited to different audiences, and as a result, transform them into must-go to places to learn about new technologies in Burundi.


  • Equiping four TV5 Monde cultural centers with KoomBook kits
  • Training the personnel to the use of Koombook kits



  • Respond to the digital divide that exists in many educational and cultural institutions.


  • Promote French culture.
  • Allow the TV5Monde cultural centers to become the leading venues to learn about new technologies in Burundi.


  • 4 TV5 Monde cultural centers are equiped with Koombook kits.
  • TV5 Monde cultural center staff are trained to operate the Koombook kits.


  • High school and university students and professors; civil servants





Strengthening the capacities of the African Great Lakes Interuniversity library network (RIGL)


Training & Capacity Building

Start date





The RIGL is a young and developing network that links 24 universities in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Rwanda. The sustainability of this network relies on the standardization of governance practices but also on educational content and information resources.


  • Standardization of practices in regards to the management of information and of documentary resources
  • Promotion of interuniversity research that standardizes indexing and cataloging practices and allows for the establishment of a communal collection catalogue
  • The elevation of librarians’ abilities by promoting the exchange of good practices and knowledge
  • The promotion of academic excellence at the university level by pooling documentary funds and by proposing resources that are rich, varied and complementary within the network

Librairies Without Borders will oversee the structuring of this network by organizing a training seminar for the head librarians of member universities.  This seminar will allow librarians from 24 universities to gather, to learn of work opportunities within the network and to develop frameworks together.

Apart from the standardization of governance procedures, the sustainability of this network requires centers in all countries to reinforce student exchanges between the three countries.  Along with the implementation of these courses of excellence, LWB will join forces with its partner universities in order to develop the centers of specialized documentary resources in the concerned domains.


  • To develop training capacities, research and access to documentary resources within RIGL
  • To develop access to documentary resources that support the area of excellence.
  • To ensure the training of RIGL library directors in preparation for the creation of a network of RIGL university libraries.


  • 3 documentary resource centers were created in connection with the area of excellence chosen by RIGL.
  • A training seminar was organized in preparation for the creation of a network of Great Lakes university librairies.


  • The RIGL university library personnel who benefited from training and networking of their librairies.
  • The 150,000 students and the lecturers/researchers at the 24 RIGL member universities who benefited from better access to resources and to information.


Financial Partners

Executive Partners