Located at the heart of the African Great Lakes region, Burundi is a small landlocked country. The densely populated nation has weathered nearly 12 years of civil war and conflict since 1993.
Two-thirds of the country’s 10.6 million people live below the poverty line and more than 90 per cent derive their livelihoods from agriculture. The vast majority of the country’s poor people are small-scale subsistence farmers striving to recover from the conflict and its aftermath.
The percentage of fertile land available for agriculture is decreasing due to the country’s high population growth rate. The long period of conflict had an adverse impact on the agriculture sector, including the livestock sector.
Food insecurity and malnutrition are becoming chronic. With an overall hunger index of 35.6 (2014), 43 per cent of the Burundian population suffers from food insecurity, and 8 per cent is facing acute chronic food insecurity, which is most pronounced in the densely populated provinces (with 400 inhabitants per km2). Climate change is also having a negative impact. The prevalence rate of stunting amongst children under 5 years of age is 57.5 per cent, while the prevalence of wasting is 6.1 per cent and the underweight rate is 29.1 per cent.
Family farming provides 95 per cent of the food supply, but does not meet nutritional needs. Agricultural production covers an average area of 0.50 ha per household, but only translates into 65 per cent of the food requirements, resulting in the country's dependence on food imports. Moreover, cereals and legumes account for less than 50 per cent of the Burundian population's diet, which consumes a high quantity of tubers. This is leading to significant micro-nutrient deficits, with a diet that is low in protein and fat-rich foods.
IFAD has been providing assistance to Burundi since 1980. Over the past decade, IFAD has supported social development and cohesion in rural communities directly or indirectly affected by massacres and conflict. This has been done particularly through the animal solidarity chain, under which poor farmers are given animals and then pass on some of their offspring to other farmers. By continuing activities in the face of insecurity and within the constraints of aid suspension, IFAD projects have helped rural communities maintain a sense of normalcy.
IFAD supports the Government in long-term planning and implementation of projects and programmes, which are critical for the agriculture sector. IFAD's overarching goal is to ensure that the achievements from the last 10 years are maintained.
In 2016, IFAD approved its Country Strategic Opportunities Programme (COSOP) for Burundi. Activities are aimed at generating economic opportunities and improving food and income security for rural households, particularly for the poorest households.
IFAD's strategy in the country is to promote rural communities' ownership of social capital reconstruction and productive processes and employment. Experience confirms that even under adverse circumstances, development programmes and projects, designed in collaboration with rural communities, can help improve rural food security and combat acute and chronic malnutrition.
Key activities include:
- building resilience in rural areas to deal with conflict, political crisis and climate change;
- regenerating sustainable livelihoods for vulnerable households;
- combatting acute and chronic malnutrition, through community-driven awareness;
- supporting community-driven planning and implementation;
- improving the capacity and accountability of local government to plan and monitor service provision;
- helping develop rural microfinance institutions that respond to the realities of post-conflict reconstruction and political crisis;
- promoting women’s participation in peacebuilding and post-conflict reconstruction so they receive a significant share of its benefits;
- promoting youth employment, especially orphaned youth, to enhance social cohesion and stability;
improving food security and communication-awareness reinforced by the IFAD-funded programme in Burundi to improve the resilience of rural populations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since 1993, Burundi has undergone nearly 12 years of conflict, which has profoundly disrupted agriculture.
Nine out of 10 Burundians live in rural areas and depend almost exclusively on subsistence farming and livestock for their livelihoods.
Since 1980, IFAD has supported 12 programmes in the country for a total of US$235.1 million, benefiting more than 700,000 poor rural households.