After more than a decade of social and political conflict, Burundi faces significant food security and nutrition challenges: extreme poverty, gender inequality, frequent natural disasters, political instability, and poor access to clean water, health care and education. These factors make Burundi the ninth worst food security crisis in the world.
Half the population is chronically food insecure
Malnutrition costs the country $102M every year
56 percent of children are too short for their age
Out of 188 countries, Burundi is one of the poorest in the world, ranking 185th in the 2018 human development index. 65 percent of the population lives in poverty. The majority of the country’s poor families live in rural areas, where living conditions are harsh and people rely heavily on small farms for food and informal employment for small amounts of money. Children from poor families are often taken out of school to help in the fields, which perpetuates the cycle of under-education, poverty and hunger. Today, one in three Burundians is in need of urgent humanitarian assistance.
Unfortunately, recurring drought and a hilly landscape make Burundi especially vulnerable to natural disasters, particularly floods and mudslides. During the rainy season, hillsides turn into mudslides, creating large crevasses where running water carries soil away. This makes growing crops exceedingly difficult. In fact, the total amount of food Burundi produces in a year would only feed its population for 55 days.
Despite being one of the smallest countries in Africa, Burundi is also one of the most densely populated, with roughly 600 people per square mile. Refugees from DRC contribute to competition and disputes over scarce natural resources. This increased demand for land forces the poorest and most vulnerable populations, mainly women, to live in the most degraded areas.
Helping Burundi Build Resilience
WFP has been present in Burundi since 1968, working to support the local government’s efforts to improve food and nutrition security.
WFP delivers immediate emergency assistance to people living in the most food-insecure areas. In June 2019, this added up to more than 2,300 tons of food.
WFP works closely with the Burundi government to build long-term and short-term strategies to help the country withstand and overcome future extreme weather.
Food for Assets
WFP’s Food for Assets program provides much-needed food to Burundians in exchange for their work on community assets like roads, dams and irrigation systems.
WFP supports Burundi’s farmers, particularly women, to teach them new techniques, increase their productivity and create business opportunities.
Approximately 12,000 malnourished children under the age of 5 and 8,200 pregnant and nursing women receive specialized nutritious food to provide them with vital nutrients.
Only one third of Burundi’s children currently complete middle school. WFP’s school meals program reaches more than 600,000 children every day, keeping them in the classroom.
Burundi ranks nearly last in the global Gender Inequality Index. WFP works within local customs to promote gender equality, particularly around marriage and health care.
WFP works to increase Burundi’s ability to cope with and recover from crises, including establishing village savings and loan associations and widening education on family planning.