Poverty in Burundi
Alongside being the poorest country globally, Burundi faces one of the highest poverty rates. However, the Great Lakes Regional Integrated Agriculture Development Project (PRDAIGL) is making significant strides in aiding those in poverty in Burundi. This effort is especially evident in its initiative to gift cows to households in need, a pivotal component of the project.

Poverty Rate in Burundi

The U.S. State Department declared Burundi as the poorest country in the world based on the country’s GDP. In Burundi, as of 2022, the GDP per capita is $238.40. Compared to developed countries like the U.S., with a GDP per capita of $76,398.60, or the U.K. with $45,850.40, the difference is substantial. Even Burundi’s neighboring country, Tanzania, has a GDP of $1,192.40. As of 2022, 87% of Burundians live on less than $1.90 a day.

Conflict’s Effect on Poverty in Burundi

Part of the reason for the state of poverty in Burundi is The Burundian Civil War. This conflict arose from long-standing tensions between the Tutsi and Hutu ethnic groups. It stretched from 1993 to 2005, during which the GDP dropped 50%, and caused issues with food security, education, safe housing and general health. All in all, the rate of poverty in Burundi is high and highlights the need for external support. This is what PRDAIGL has set out to provide.


The World Bank formed PRDAIGL in 2017 to improve the financial and living conditions of those living in poverty in Burundi. Despite being a largely agricultural country, with 80% of its people relying on agriculture for income, 50% of people in Burundi do not have enough access to food. In fact, food production in Burundi can only provide a person with enough food for 55 days a year.

PRDAIGL set out to alleviate financial struggles due to poverty in Burundi by providing livestock in the form of cattle, along with financial and technical support. Despite a difficult beginning to the project, with delays caused by bovine diseases and COVID-19 measures that prevented the importing of more than 3,000 cows to Burundi, PRDAIGL has finally been able to carry out its mission in 2023.

A Case Study of the PRDAIGL Project

An example of how the project has supported those in poverty in Burundi is 56-year-old Christine Nyabenda, whose financial situation improved after receiving a cow from PRDAIGL. After receiving training in animal husbandry and receiving assistance in building a structure for the cow, Nyabenda has started a successful dairy business.

With the profits from selling dairy products, she has since been able to buy a second cow, build a shop for her products and hire four employees. She has also used her increased earnings to improve her family’s living conditions. And she has been able to take care of the cows properly after receiving training from PRDAIGL in how to monitor their health, keep them and their enclosures hygienic and operate a sustainable farm.

How the Project Has Helped People

PRDAIGL’s successes during this project include:

  • It distributed 3,150 cows to those in need
  • The project provided 11,829,000 Bana-grass cuttings
  • PRDAIGL provided 150 tons of meals
  • It provided 18,000 bags of cement
  • It gave pumps, syringes and thermometers
  • The project provided training for beneficiaries
  • It helped 38,120 people, 35% of whom were women

Looking Ahead

In spite of being one of the poorest countries globally, Burundi receives crucial assistance from organizations like PRDAIGL. Charities and initiatives like these offer a glimmer of hope for the eventual eradication of poverty in Burundi.

– Jess Wilkinson
Photo: Flickr