Hunger in Burundi has become a major crisis. After years of conflict and extreme poverty, this East African country has entered into a dangerous position on the world stage.
Here are eight reasons why hunger in Burundi needs to be reduced today:
- Burundi was considered the hungriest country in the world in 2014. According to the Global Hunger Index, the levels of hunger in Burundi were, and still are, considered “extremely alarming.” Burundi is one of only two countries to remain in the “red zone” since 1990.
- Over half of Burundian children under the age of five suffer from chronic malnutrition. Malnutrition is known to generate delays in physical growth and intellectual development among children. One-third of deaths for children under the age of five are a result of malnutrition. Chronic malnutrition is often caused by development issues, such as poverty and food insecurity.
- Only 28 percent of the Burundian population is food secure. According to the World Food Programme (WFP), individuals are considered food secure if they have access to safe, sufficient and nutritious food at all times. Less than one-third of the Burundian population has an adequate amount of food to eat throughout the year.
- Civil war has ravaged the Burundian countryside for the past 15 years. Over 200,000 Burundians have been killed during the conflict and there are currently over 250,000 Burundian refugees. The civil war has had an increasingly negative impact on the economy, poverty and hunger in Burundi.
- Burundi is one of the poorest countries in the world. There is a major correlation between poverty and hunger in Burundi. According to the World Bank, 7 million Burundians are living below the poverty line and over 77 percent of the population is living on less than $2 a day.
- Households in Burundi spend up to two-thirds of their income on food, even during the harvest season. Burundi is considered one of the “red zone” countries most affected by increasing food prices, as identified by both the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and WFP. The primary cause of Burundi’s “red zone” status is inadequate domestic food production.
- Agricultural production in Burundi has decreased by 24 percent over the past two decades. Agriculture is the cornerstone of Burundi’s economy, accounting for nearly 43 percent of the country’s GDP. Subsistence farmers, which make up 90 percent of families in Burundi, depend on agriculture to meet both their food and income needs. Last year Burundi faced a food production deficit of over 32 percent.
- Burundi is extremely prone to natural disasters. According to the 2015 World Risk Index, Burundi was ranked among the top 20 percent of countries most at risk for natural disasters. Just two years ago, Burundi suffered from dangerous torrential rains, causing fatal landslides and flooding. The natural disasters in recent years have contributed to the deterioration of agriculture and food security in Burundi.
Although conditions have grown increasingly unstable, there are organizations working to reduce poverty and hunger in Burundi. For years WFP has been working to feed rural families, primary school children, refugees and pregnant women in Burundi. With the help of international organizations and governments, Burundi has the potential to be a safer and healthier country.
– Kristyn Rohrer