poverty rate in BurundiFrom the civil war that ravaged Burundi between 1993 and 2005 to the political turmoil that erupted in 2015 when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced he would run for a third term, Burundi has consistently battled displacement, violence and neglect that has dramatically increased the number of people living in poverty.

The civil war of 1993 through 2005—an ethnic conflict between Hutu’s and Tutsi’s that resulted in over 300,000 dead and hundreds of thousands more displaced—took a toll on the poverty rate in Burundi, which rose from 48 percent to 68 percent.

In the aftermath, people lacked access to potable water, adequate sanitation and medical aid. The vast majority of Burundian’s were thrust into poverty, battling sickness, hunger and violence.

Still, the country fought to recover. With the Arusha Accords, which ended the conflict and placed a two-term limit on presidential tenures, and an influx of foreign aid, the poverty rate in Burundi began to decline.

Yet, in 2015, as President Pierre Nkurunziza declared he was going to run for an unconstitutional third term, the country again fell into turmoil.

The repercussions have taken a toll on the poverty rate in Burundi—the United Nations Development Programme has estimated it as an astonishing 77.7 percent. What’s more, the country ranks 184 out of 188 countries on the 2016 Human Development Index. All said, Burundi is one of the poorest nations in the world, where access to basic goods and services is increasingly hard to come by.

As Nkurunziza, the Imbonerakure and Security Forces continue to capture, rape, torture and intimidate the people of Burundi, foreign aid is being pulled. The majority of major donors to the country have suspended budgetary assistance for the Burundian government and both the United States and the European Union have imposed sanctions on many opposition leaders and senior officials.

Even now, the turmoil continues to boil on and people continue to face a precarious future. This has led over 325,000 people to flee the country since 2015, most to neighboring Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

This outflux has severely crippled Burundi’s economy. Agriculture, which makes up 40 percent of the country’s GDP and employs over 80 percent of Burundians, is losing the labor necessary for production and distribution. What’s more, private consumption has plummeted as people continue to march across borders away from the atrocities being committed.

As the economy continues to struggle; as violence, displacement and death are an ever-present threat and as foreign aid remains stagnant, precarity is becoming a way of life. The poverty rate in Burundi will continue to rise unless the international community takes a stand. Aid is essential, both monetary and humanitarian, in order to overcome the crises and stem rising poverty. The world sat back passively during the first civil war that tore the country apart. Will it happen again now?

Joseph Dover

Photo: Flickr

How to Help People in BurundiCitizens of the Republic of Burundi are plagued by malnutrition, unclean water, unsanitary conditions, poor hygiene, low quality education, food scarcity, overpopulation, sexual and gender based violence and child labor. And the question is: why is this crisis prevalent and how can everyday people help? The long-term solution to helping people in Burundi is to fix how monetary resources are allocated by its government.

Seeing as that task is daunting for the layman, the following paragraphs provide information on how to help people in Burundi.

Helping people in Burundi is frankly, difficult. This is because the European Union, Belgium, United States and other western countries have decided to suspend all bilateral aid (when one country’s government gives financial aid to another’s country’s government) to Burundi’s government because of human rights violations and an unwillingness to engage in sincere negotiations for peace.

Prior to the freeze, bilateral aid accounted for about half of Burundi’s overall budget. Lack of bilateral aid will only further hurt the country’s economy, and Burundi’s economy was already one of the least developed in the world.

While bilateral aid has been suspended, humanitarian aid has not. Here are three humanitarian organizations you can donate to in order to help people in Burundi:

1. World Food Programme

People in Burundi need food. The World Food Programme (WFP), the leading humanitarian organization fighting hunger worldwide to help them get that food, needs donations. In Burundi, only 28 percent of the population are food-secure and as many as 58 percent are chronically malnourished. WFP provides hot meals to primary school aged children in food insecure areas to encourage school attendance. Two hundred thousand children currently receive assistance from this program.

WFP also offers food assistance to 70,000 pregnant and nursing women who are underweight 6 months before birth and for up to 3 months after birthing. In addition, WFP provides food to refugees and people living with HIV and AIDS. Finally, WFP teaches locals in Burundi how to be more efficient in agriculture through its Food-for-Training/Food for Assets program.

Three hundred and fifty thousand people are being taught infrastructure development, how to rehabilitate deforested areas, agro-forestry and micro-economic training.

2. BeyGOOD

People in Burundi need access to clean water. Donate to Beyonce’s organization, BeyGOOD. BeyGOOD is working with UNICEF to supply safe water to people in Burundi. A statement on Beyonce’s website states: “With your help, nearly half a million people will gain access to safe water, as BEYGOOD4BURUNDI and UNICEF will support building water supply systems for healthcare facilities and schools, and the drilling of boreholes, wells and springs to bring safe water to districts.”

Donation gifts range from $3.11 for a collapsible 68-ounce water container for one person to $1,430.06 for a water tank kit for 1,000 people.

3. The Burundi Education Fund 

People in Burundi need better quality education. Poverty and hunger have made it difficult for students to obtain an education. After the 6th grade, the Burundi Educational System simply does not have the room or resources to place children in schools. This results in students having to compete to be selected for the next grade by taking difficult placement tests. In some cases even if the student passes the test, he or she cannot move further in education due to the inability to afford tuition fees or school supplies.

The Burundi Education Fund, Inc. is a charitable Christian organization formed to provide materials and financial support to students and schools in extreme poverty in Burundi, Africa.

Specific successes of the organization that have helped students obtain their education include building a 26-bed dormitory safe house for the girls of Muramba High School, a running water fountain that provides clean drinking water to more than 1,900 students in the Mubimbi district and supporting a transfer student program.

The highly selective transfer program offers high school students a chance to continue their education in the U.S.

These are the most vital examples on how to help people in Burundi. The organizations above are addressing key needs of Burundian people’s lives that help them to obtain their basic human rights. While helping the people of Burundi may seem daunting, to be a responsible global citizen one must not turn a blind eye to tactics that can help others improve their quality of life.

Take action today and help one of the world’s poorest and hungriest nations become food and wealth secure.

Jeanine Thomas

Photo: Flickr

Human Rights in BurundiSince the political upheaval of Burundi’s 2015 elections, the Imbonerakure, the youth wing of the ruling party, continues to pose a direct threat toward human rights in Burundi, as confirmed by recent rape chants caught on video.

As 21,000 Burundians fled to Rwanda in 2015 due to the Imbonerakure, many believe that the presence of this youth wing serves a source of intimidation and violence to quell the opposition to President Pierre Nkurunziza’s controversial third term.

While a two-term limit exists in Burundi’s national constitution, the ruling party claimed that Nkurunziza’s first term failed to count since he was originally elected by parliament, causing an upheaval of opposition that still prevails today.

Since the election, Imbonerakure members continue to rape, torture and kill Burundi citizens. Investigators have revealed that the targets of the youth party are most often women whom they believe to have ties to anti-government supporters, including the wives and daughters of opposition members.

The United Nations’ mission in Burundi described the group as “one of the major threats to peace in Burundi and to the credibility of the 2015 elections as they are responsible for most politically motivated violence against the opposition.” Recent action on the part of the youth wing has shown their threats to have only become worse.

On April 1, 200 members of Burundi’s ruling party youth league marched through the center of Ntega, chanting, “Impregnate the opposition, so they give birth to Imbonerakure.  There are lots of girls. Impregnate them, Imbonerakure!”

While this song serves as the reality for many of Burundi’s people, one man decided to file a complaint with the police after two policemen raped his wife. As a result, this man was beaten by Imbonerakure members and told by the police that he was “staining the image of the security forces.”

As the youth league continues to violate human rights in Burundi, the people live in fear, as they are afraid to speak out knowing that President Pierre Nkurunziza’s government makes no effort to prosecute or provide consequences for the Imbonerakure’s crimes.

While the Imbonerakure continue to impose themselves as a threat to the nation, is clear that human rights in Burundi will not be maintained until government officials take action to address these heinous acts of brutality.

Kendra Richardson

Photo: Flickr

Why is Burundi PoorBurundi is a small East African nation located near Rwanda. Unfortunately, 58 percent of the population is chronically malnourished. Only 28 percent are food secure. With a GDP per capita of $818, it is the third poorest nation in the world. How is this nation one of the hungriest in the world, and why is Burundi poor? There are several reasons Burundi is poor and hungry. Below are four.

1. Conflict

Burundi has been involved in a cycle of civil wars since they obtained independence from Belgium in 1962. The nation has recorded five episodes of civil war that have claimed more than 500,000 lives and have produced about a million refugees. Consequently, this cycle of war has created an extremely unstable political environment. What is more, the latest two civil wars—one from 1993-2005 and another in 2015 after the controversial reelection of President Pierre Nkurunziza for a third term on a technicality—further crippled Burundi’s economy.

Conflict hinders agriculture, the backbone of Burundi’s economy. In fact, 90 percent of the population depend on agriculture for their livelihood. Due to Burundi’s civil war, poverty increased from 48 to 67 percent of the population between 1994 and 2006. Rising food prices (including a 28 percent increase in 2007-08) affect families’ livelihoods and increase their susceptibility to repetitive natural threats. These threats include flooding, droughts, landslides and the impact of climate change.

War has also impeded manufacturing. For example, the 1993-2005 civil war caused manufacturing production to decline by an average of 13 percent per year between 1993 and 1997.

Finally, war economies are short-term oriented. Even when wars end, post-war economies must overcome a destroyed infrastructure, a devastated productive sector because of allocating resources to fund the war, lack of funds and a dearth of moral standards. These facts make it easier to understand why the rate of investment in the Burundian economy declined during the 1993-2005 civil war years. The rate of gross investment declined from 17.5 percent in 1990 to a mere 5.6 percent in 1998.

Why is Burundi poor? The continuous cycle of violence and war has been a major detriment to Burundi’s economy and has increased the amount of people in poverty in the country.

2. Inefficient Management of Public Finances and Resources by the State

The state of Burundi regularly interferes with the economy. It subsidizes fuel and rations subsidized electricity. The government also influences other prices through state-owned enterprises and agriculture-support programs. Economic freedom is not allowed, and this weakens entrepreneurial activity. The state also takes away private property from citizens.

Whys is Burundi poor? Poor economic planning and management from the government prevents economic growth.

3. Little Land to Support the Growing Population

Burundi is landlocked, and its population is continually increasing. Land is the greatest source of conflict in Burundi. The country is overpopulated and rural, so land is valuable because it is a source of agriculture. Land is a source of life and death. In fact, 89 percent of the population are subsistence farmers and depend on the land to grow food for their families.

In his study, “Why Has Burundi Grown So Slowly?” Janvier D. Nkurunziza cites a 1998 study from the Entequete Prioritaire (EP 1998) that stated the average farmer in rural areas of Burundi walked an average of one hour to get to the nearest marketplace, and it took them 30 minutes to get to the nearest grocery. In addition, there is only one market day per week in many rural areas, and there are no storage areas for perishable produce. Because of this, farmers have no incentive to create surplus. EP1998 data further shows that Burundian producers consume on average 64 percent of their own food produce. The farmers farm to survive, not to grow wealth.

Why is Burundi poor? With a fast-growing population and too little land to house them all, resources and livelihoods are more difficult to acquire and improve.

4. Droughts and Other Natural Disasters

Burundi has suffered from an unusually high number of natural disasters. Droughts, torrential rain, floods and hailstorms have been particularly destructive in recent years. Disasters have contributed to the displacement of communities; the destruction of homes; the disruption of livelihoods and the further decline in food and nutrition security.

Other effects of the disasters include decreases in land productivity and an increase in crop pests. Regions affected by recent natural disasters are also at risk for permanent food insecurity and weak nutritional conditions. Overcrowded areas (about 270 inhabitants per km2, and up to 400 per km2 in the most densely populated areas) have also contributed to greater food and resource scarcity in affected areas.

Why is Burundi poor? Natural disasters through an already impoverished nation into a state of crisis, causing food shortages and displacement.

The history of conflict and leadership in Burundi has had long term consequences for the state of poverty in the country today. The recent decision by several western countries to discontinue aid to Burundi to compel its state to genuinely reform systemic issues that contribute to conflict is not helping poverty in the interim. However, humanitarian aid programs such as the World Food Programme (WFP) and UNICEF offer hope that someday, the Burundian people will overcome the perpetual cycle of poverty through compassion and help from their fellow man. Burundi has a long journey ahead on the path to reform. Understanding its history helps answer the question: why is Burundi poor?

Jeanine Thomas

Photo: Flickr

The Most Common Diseases in BurundiBurundi is a landlocked nation located in East Africa that shares borders with Rwanda, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Over the past decade, Burundi has had a sustained decrease in its child mortality rate, from 114.5 deaths per 1000 live births in 2007 to 81.7 deaths per 1000 live births in 2015.

This state has been achieved due to several factors, including some vaccine programs – such as the rotavirus vaccines introduced in 2013 – all of which have helped to increase the supply and accessibility of health services. Nonetheless, the death rate in Burundi is still pretty high.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the infant mortality rate in the United States is 5.82 deaths per 1000 live births. Considering the population of Burundi is slightly under the population of the state of Ohio in the U.S., this is quite a significant difference. What makes matters more worrisome is that the common diseases in Burundi that do the most damage are for the most part avoidable.

Overall, diarrhea, lower respiratory disease and other common infectious diseases are the deadliest causes of harm in Burundi. This is supported by the fact that 20.1 percent of deaths are caused by these diseases. They are followed closely by HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis at 13.8 percent and neglected tropical diseases and malaria at 13.3 percent.

Again when looking at the common diseases in Burundi, we must understand that while much work still needs to be done, in the larger scope of things the situation is improving. The nation’s child mortality rate is dropping; death due to malaria has decreased by 69.1 percent, and above all, there is more knowledge and awareness about preventative health measures.

As said before, the common diseases in Burundi that do the most damage are for the most part avoidable. According to healthdata.org, the biggest risk factors that drive the most death and disability in Burundi include child and maternal malnutrition, unsafe water, sanitation, and hand washing. If the 3732.8 deaths due to diarrheal diseases can be cut down with access to clean water, then this problem appears to be solvable.

Obinna Iwuji

Photo: Flickr

Access to Clean Water and Sanitation Services in Burundi

In 2015, Burundi’s gross domestic product (GDP) per capita was the lowest in the world at 276 U.S. dollars, and its population density was one of the highest at 435 people per square kilometer of land area, according to The World Bank. As a result, everyday things such as access to clean water and sanitation services in Burundi can be a struggle for the people who live there.

Burundi is located in the Great Lakes Region of East Africa and has been called “the Heart of Africa” because of its geographic shape and location. Although landlocked, the country’s freshwater sources are plentiful. Nearly the entire western border of Burundi lies on the shores of Lake Tanganyika, and most of its northern side is bordered by the Kanyaru River. Other bodies of water there include the Malagarasi, Rusize and Ruvubu Rivers; and Cohaha and Rwero Lakes.

A 2010 Water and Sanitation Profile on Burundi from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) reported that their renewable internal freshwater availability was equal to just under 330,000 gallons per person every year. With a number as large as this, how is it possible that access to clean water and sanitation services in Burundi is a struggle?

The Problems Facing Access to Clean Water and Sanitation Services in Burundi

Since 1962, four wars have taken place in Burundi, the results of which have directly impacted their water sector infrastructure. “Burundi’s water supply and sanitation (WSS), sector endured years of destruction brought on by sabotage and neglect during the civil war and its aftermath […] several kilometers of water pipes, connections and 80% of installed meters were destroyed,” according to USAID. This caused many people to use untreated water, which led to waterborne diseases, triggering higher mortality rates.

In 2000, world leaders adopted the U.N. Millennium Declaration along with seven goals, known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), which had targets for addressing extreme poverty. Goal number 7, target 10, was to “halve, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe water and basic sanitation.” USAID reported that in 2008, 72% of urban and rural populations in Burundi had access to drinking water, and 46% had access to sanitation services. There was significant improvement seen in the availability of sanitation services, with 1.2 million people gaining access since 1990.

Although Burundi was likely to meet the MDG, targeting sustainable access to drinking water, it was not expected to reach the “water and sanitation services in Burundi” target. However, the Government of Burundi was working to improve their WSS sector by creating new policies to increase coverage throughout the country, according to the USAID. Past and current donors contributing to the WSS sector include the African Development Bank (AfDB), the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and The World Bank.

Kristin Westad

Photo: Flickr

Education of Burundian Children
Burundi relies heavily on foreign aid and what is not coming in cannot possibly go out. At the close of last year, the president of Burundi announced the budgetary conditions for the upcoming year, and all sectors would be receiving a large cut. The Ministry of Education was reduced by one-third, with water/sanitization and human rights services closely following. The Ministry of Health would also have to operate with half of its previous budget.

It is not just the availability of education in Burundi that affects a child’s capacity to learn and function, all of their basic needs must also be met in order to contribute to their growth. Toward the end of last year, the number of children suffering from severe malnutrition in Bujumbura doubled within less than three months. The city is in strife, abreast with political unrest, making the streets unsafe for children, leading to an increase in Burundian’s seeking asylum in neighboring countries.

With strains being placed on Burundi’s already feeble education system, it is hard to predict a positive outcome for the education of Burundian children living in these harsh circumstances. However, UNICEF refuses to let the education of Burundian children fall victim to circumstances.

Although UNICEF provides school supplies, manages grants and other forms of relief in Burundi, they have also implemented a number of other programs for the advocacy and safety of Burundian children.

Partnering with Handicap International, a program called “Zones of Peace” was launched in Bujumbura, where teachers received specialized training to help children cope with the psychosocial effects of living in turbulent conditions. UNICEF also mediated with organizations in Tanzania to provide a way for Burundian refugee students to take their 9-10 grade exams, without jeopardizing their safety.

The safety and education of Burundian children are UNICEF’s top priority, especially lone male children that are being targeted and forced into jail. In response, UNICEF and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights have fought rigorously for their release and opened two re-education centers to house the previously detained children.

The majority of imprisoned children are held in adult prisons, where they are at risk for abuse and are malnourished during their confinement. The re-education center is a safe haven for the children to receive needed counseling, nourishment, legal services, education and reintegration back into society. These centers hope to remove the stigma that often accompanies incarceration and to return educated, mentally well young adults into society.

UNICEF’s efforts to provide safety and the education of Burundian children does not stop at the re-education centers. On Aug. 1, 2016, in conjunction with Burundi’s Ministry of Education, UNFPA, WFP and the United Nations Volunteers, they have opened 20 summer camps in Bujumbura. The goal of these camps is not only to allow the children a safe place to join in recreation but also to provide them with life skills, education, as well as enhancing non-violent communication and interactions.

The road towards achieving stability for Burundian children, with reliable access to education, is wrought with challenges, but through the unrelenting efforts of UNICEF and co-sponsoring organizations, one thing Burundian children have is hope.

Amy Whitman

Photo: Flickr

Burundi Refugees
Burundi is a country in East Africa that shares borders with Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda. The country’s civil war has left Burundian refugees in a state of emergency.

The tumultuous civil war, which occured from 1993 to 2006, culminated in the parliamentary election of Hutu rebel leader Pierra Nkurunziza. Events similar to those that triggered the war, which claimed 300,000 lives, have once again come into focus.

Although Burundi’s constitution limits presidential incumbency to two terms, President Nkurunziza expressed desire to seek a third term, aggravating opposition groups severely.

A 2015 coup exacerbated the issue further. The power struggle between the Hutu and Tutsi ethnicities contributed to the discord. Although Nkurinziza received 79 percent of the vote, the crisis led to bloodshed and mass emigration, which has crippled Burundi and left many impoverished.

The following 10 facts about Burundi refugees describe their plight:

  1. As highlighted by the 2008 U.N. Human Development Index, Burundi ranks 167 out of 177 countries, with a concurrent rural poverty rate of 68.9 percent.
  2. More than 250,000 Burundian refugees have fled to neighboring countries. Moreover, Tanzania alone is collectively home to 144,000 Burundian refugees.
  3. The Nyarugusu and Nduta refugee camps in Tanzania have reached maximum carrying capacity, and the Mtendelli refugee camp now has to house the surfeit.
  4. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has played a pivotal role in combating the spread of malaria among Burundian refugees and addressing mental health problems. One in two MSF patients in the Tanzanian refugee camps have malaria.
  5. Attackers from Burundi’s ruling party have gang raped and ostracized women, especially female family members of assumed opposition groups. The problem has been widespread in refugee camps.
  6. According to UNHCR, an estimated $134 million is needed to effectively respond to Burundi‘s plight and safeguard the needs of Burundian refugees. However, only $46 million has been raised by donors.
  7. The Brethren Disaster Ministries have provided grants to help the Brethren Church of Rwanda carefully maneuver and support the influx of Burundian refugees into Rwanda. The grants will provide emergency food and supplies to hundreds of families.
  8. The U.N. Security Council has agreed to deploy 228 police forces to monitor and ease the situation in Burundi‘s capital, Bujumbura. Despite this decisive move, the U.N. still needs to seek approval from the Burundian government and cope with the protests that have emerged as a result of the decision.
  9. Many Burundian refugees want an outlet for their products and a way to market their goods. Handcraft cooperatives at Mahama refugee camp in Rwanda have benefited from UNHCR guidance and aid. Most of these cooperatives are spearheaded by women, who now have the opportunity to express their culture and sell their products.
  10. The UNHCR has made great headway with regards to promoting education in refugee camps. A major plan is in the works to set up a university in Mahama camp.

These 10 facts showcase the plight of Burundian refugees. The balance of power between the Tutsi and Hutu ethnicities in military and government institutions is fragile. Keeping it in check is the objective of the international community and Arusha Accords.

Shivani Ekkanath

Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Burundi
A decade of social and political conflict has left Burundi, a landlocked country in east-central Africa, facing increasing levels of food insecurity. With a dense population of 11.8 million people, many citizens are facing poverty and malnutrition: Burundi is considered to be in the ninth-worst food security crisis in the world. Here are 5 facts regarding the situation of hunger in Burundi.

5 Facts About Hunger in Burundi

  1. Burundi is ranked as one of the poorest countries in the world. As of 2019, more than 65% of Burundians live below the poverty line. More than 50% are chronically hungry, and the total annual production of food in Burundi would only cover 55 days per person per year.
  2. Burundian citizens rely on agriculture. About 80% rely on farming to meet their food needs. Due to the average of 248 people per square mile in Burundi and the annual 3% increase in population, the amount of farming land available is extremely limited, reducing the total capacity of food production.
  3. Only 1/3 of Burundian children complete middle school. Children in poverty are often taken out of school to work in the fields, which perpetuates the cycle of under-education and poverty. The World Food Program is working to support schoolchildren by providing them with meals, their program reaching about 600,000 children every day to help ensure that they stay in the classroom.
  4.  The World Food Program is helping to support farmers in Burundi. The World Food Program has been working since 1968 to combat hunger in Burundi, which includes supporting smallholder farmers. The program works to build systems that combine smallholders’ produce and improve food management after harvest.
  5. The Terintambwe ‘Take a Step Forward’ program has been working to combat hunger and poverty in Burundi. This program, which focuses on providing skills training, income support and capital transfers to help participants start their own small businesses, is working to improve lives in Burundi. According to a report by the Global Hunger Index, the number of adult participants eating only one meal a day at baseline dropped from 81% at the beginning of the program to 8% at the end of the program.

Burundian citizens suffering from poverty and hunger are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance. Organizations such as the World Food Program and the Terintambwe ‘Take a Step Forward’ program are working to reduce hunger in Burundi, and both seek out voluntary donations to fund their programs. Support of governmental institutions in Burundi such as the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, Ministry of National Solidarity and the Ministry of Gender are also essential to reducing hunger in Burundi. With these steps in place, the work to improve the lives of Burundian citizens can begin.

Ayesha Asad
Photo: FreeImages

5 Facts about Poverty In Burundi
From 1993 to 2006 a catastrophic civil war engulfed Burundi, amassing a death toll of over 300,000, leaving the country in shambles. 10 years after the official end of the war, Burundi is still trying to get back up on its feet. Following the war, poverty in Burundi increased from 48 to 67 percent of the population. Being ranked as the second most impoverished country in the world, Burundians face a tremendous amount of hardships day after day. Here are five crucial facts to better understand poverty in Burundi:

  1. Burundi is both landlocked and resource-poor with an underdeveloped manufacturing sector which makes it very difficult to survive, thus making the country heavily dependent on foreign aid. In 2014, 42 percent of Burundi’s national income came from foreign aid; this is the second-highest national income to foreign aid rate in all of Sub-Saharan Africa.
  2. Burundi’s civil war forced over 48,000 refugees into Tanzania and displaced 140,000 others internally. Fortunately, after the war, political stability, aid flows and economic activity increased. Unfortunately, however, the war also led to a high poverty rate, poor education, weak legal system, poor transportation network, overstrained utilities and low administrative capacity. Government corruption is also a huge burden Burundians are forced to live with.
  3. In 2015, Burundi faced another hardship with political turmoil over President Nkurunziza’s heavily debated third term. This drama strained Burundi’s economy and caused blocks in transportation routes which disrupted the flow of agricultural goods. To make matters worse, many donors also withdrew their aid, raising tensions throughout the country.
  4. As a result of Burundi’s poverty situation, the median age in Burundi is 17 years old with about 46 percent of the population being 14 years of age or younger. With that being said, Burundi’s infant and maternal mortality rates are among the highest in all of Africa with 16,000 infant deaths per year. Along with infant and maternal mortality, malaria, diarrhea, which accounts for 88 percent of diarrhea-related deaths are attributed to unsafe drinking water and lack of sanitation, respiratory infections and the effects of malnutrition are the leading causes of death in Burundi. In 2005, about 53 percent of children under the age of five suffered from growth stunting due to malnutrition.
  5. Burundi’s government aims to provide free basic education, but a lack of funds makes it difficult to acquire the number of teachers and tools necessary for the cause. Drop-out rates of students are also exceedingly high due to hunger.

It is easy to look away from the struggles Burundians face in their day-to-day lives, but they should not continue to suffer while the world turns a blind eye. The civil war may have happened 10 years ago, but this does not mean Burundi is a lost cause. If anything, this country’s situation should open the eyes of individuals throughout the world and spur them into action in order to properly assist and guide Burundians into a much brighter future. With the outside assistance, poverty in Burundi is something that can be overcome.

Bella Chaffey

Photo: Flickr