Open Access Research article

Reintegration of child soldiers in Burundi: a tracer study

Mark JD Jordans12*, Ivan H Komproe13, Wietse A Tol14, Aline Ndayisaba5, Theodora Nisabwe6 and Brandon A Kohrt7

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Research & Development, HealthNet TPO, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

2 Center for Global Mental Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK

3 Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands

4 Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins, New Haven, USA

5 Burundi Country Office, HealthNet TPO, Bujumbura, Burundi

6 Department of Psychology, Bujumbura University, Bujumbura, Burundi

7 Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, George Washington University, Washington, D.C, USA

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BMC Public Health 2012, 12:905  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-905

Published: 25 October 2012



Substantial attention and resources are aimed at the reintegration of child soldiers, yet rigorous evaluations are rare.


This tracer study was conducted among former child soldiers (N=452) and never-recruited peers (N=191) who participated in an economic support program in Burundi. Socio-economic outcome indicators were measured retrospectively for the period before receiving support (T1; 2005–06); immediately afterwards (T2; 2006–07); and at present (T3; 2010). Participants also rated present functional impairment and mental health indicators.


Participants reported improvement on all indicators, especially economic opportunity and social integration. At present no difference existed between both groups on any of the outcome indicators. Socio-economic functioning was negatively related with depression- and, health complaints and positively with intervention satisfaction.


The present study demonstrates promising reintegration trajectories of former child soldiers after participating in a support program.

Child soldiers; Reintegration; Mental health; Conflict; Burundi