Burundi is one of the poorest countries in the world, persistently falling in to the bottom five countries on the UN Human Development Index with an estimate 3.6 million people in need of humanitarian assistance due to political instability and recurrent natural disasters. The political crisis and human rights abuses that began in 2015 caused over 400,000 Burundians to flee the country, although some are now starting to return.
Just under half a million children are currently out of school and living in extreme poverty. In 2015 hundreds of classrooms were destroyed in waves of violence and since only a very few of these
have been rehabilitated.
What We Do.
One of the most disadvantaged groups in Burundi is the minority Batwa, an indigenous ethnic group found in pockets across central Africa. Traditionally landless, the Batwa often find themselves at the margins of society, discriminated against and forced in to low paid work. 70% of Batwa adults are illiterate and in the communities where we work 30% of Batwa children are not in education.
Our work currently focuses on Muyinga province in the north east of the country where we work with our local partner FAMA to support the economic needs of the local Batwa community so that they are better able to care for their children and send them to school.
We have supported Batwa families to improve their food security and more recently have introduced Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs) to 180 households, to strengthen their financial position. Membership of the scheme has allowed parents to send more of their children attend school and to receive medical care. It has also increased women’s empowerment and helped create a greater sense of community in Muyinga.