Today the U.N. Human Rights Chief warned that Burundi is “at a bursting point, on the very cusp of civil war.”
Since April, more than 220,000 people have fled ongoing violence in the Central African nation. Even before fighting escalated earlier this year, WFP delivered lifesaving food assistance and agricultural support to communities still recovering from what one U.N. official called the country’s “deeply troubled, dark and horrendously violent past.”
So how critical is the situation? Here’s what you need to know:
- Burundi has been plagued by ongoing civil war for the past 15 years. Burundi’s first democratically elected president was assassinated in October of 1993 after only 100 days in office, triggering widespread ethnic violence. More than 200,000 Burundians perished during the conflict that spanned almost a dozen years.
- Less than one-third of Burundi’s population has enough food to eat throughout the year. As a result, nearly 60% of Burundi’s population is chronically malnourished.
- Agriculture is the backbone of Burundi’s economy. 90% of families in Burundi are subsistence farmers who rely on farming to meet their food and income needs.
- Even during harvest season when food is most plentiful, households spend up to two-thirds of their income on food. Burundi is one of the ‘red zone’ countries identified by WFP as being among the most affected by soaring food prices. This is mainly the result of inadequate domestic food production. In fact, last year Burundi faced a food production deficit of over 32%.
- Burundi is one of the poorest countries in the world. Poverty is widespread: 90–95 percent of the population living on less than $2 per day.
- It’s also the most population-dense country in Africa. There is an average of 248 people per square mile and the population is growing rapidly at nearly 3% each year. This reduces the amount of farming land available for food production.
- Like much of Central Africa, Burundi is prone to natural disasters such as floods, hailstorms, drought and torrential rain. In recent years, the country has registered an unusually high number of natural disasters, which have contributed to the displacement of communities, the destruction of homes, the disruption of livelihoods and the further deterioration of food and nutrition security.
- WFP has been working in Burundi since 1968. WFP is currently supporting more than 800,000 of Burundi’s most vulnerable families through the rehabilitation of children suffering from malnutrition, the provision of school meals, food assistance to victims of natural disasters, and the empowerment of communities to improve food production.
- More than 220,000 refugees have fled Burundi due to the recent violence. WFP is providing food and nutrition assistance to the refugees who have fled to Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. To support families on the move, High Energy Biscuits are provided along the way. Refugees also receive hot meals in transit centers. Once a family has settled in either a camp or host community, WFP distributes rations including maize, beans, oil, salt, and Super Cereal.
- None of this would be possible without your support. WFP—and its operation in Burundi—is entirely funded by voluntary donations. We need your continued dedication and generosity to reach more families in need as the situation deteriorates.
To learn more about WFP’s work in Burundi check out Estella’s story of hope and resilience.