Burundi | ActionAid UK


ActionAid began work in Burundi in 1976. We work with the poorest and most excluded people, helping them to earn an income, grow food and raise awareness of women and girls’ rights. In particular, we support the Batwa community, Burundi’s indigenous people, who traditionally work as servants and don’t have access to public services.

What we do in Burundi

Helping farmers grow food

Climate change, recurring natural disasters, land scarcity and conflict have led to widespread displacement of farmers and a loss of livestock in Burundi. A shortage of good quality seeds means thousands of farmers are forced to use seeds which are prone to disease. As a result, many harvests are ruined and people go hungry.

ActionAid provides small-scale farmers with the training and tools they need to grow and multiply quality seeds, thus producing a better crop. Through this support we’re helping hundreds of women to feed their children, as well as sell extra crops to pay for school fees and medicines.

Helping young people to be self employed

Unemployment is high in Burundi. One out of two educated young people and 60% of those who haven’t had been to school can’t find employment and don’t have the opportunity to learn vocational skills.

ActionAid helps young people to set up their own businesses by providing training in basic business management.

Raising awareness of women’s rights

20% of girls are married by their 18th birthday. Often these marriages are informal, or polygamous, meaning women can easily be abandoned by their husbands with several children and no means to support themselves. ActionAid has been working with the Batwa community to raise awareness of women and children’s rights, including the risks of informal and polygamous marriage, and support couples to legalise their marriage and get marriage certificates to give women greater security.

By providing training and financial support to women farmers associations, we’re also helping women to make their own money and become more independent.

Why we work in Burundi

Burundi is a landlocked country in Central East Africa. One of the poorest countries in the world, Burundi is struggling to recover from a 12-year civil war, where over 300,000 people were killed and hundreds of thousands of people displaced. 1

Since the end of the war in 2005, insecurity has persisted, with civil unrest flaring again in 2015 when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced he was running for a third term. Since this time, a failed coup attempt, mass protests and a government crackdown has caused widespread violence, forcing over 250,000 people to flee to neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. 2


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    Just 22% of children attend secondary school.1
  • 28
    Only 28% of the population has enough food to eat.2
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    20% of girls are married by their 18th birthday.3

Years of war and ongoing political unrest, combined with extreme poverty and recurrent natural disasters has hit Burundi’s economy hard. Hunger is widespread.

For women and girls, life is especially hard. Sexual violence, abuse and not having access to education is common. However, the situation for women is improving. Equal numbers of boys and girls now attend primary school and enrolment rates have reached an impressive 96%.

Burundi also offers free healthcare to pregnant women and children under five, an initiative which has halved infant mortality rates over the past 10 years.

How we’re changing lives for good

We work in across Burundi supporting smallholder farmers, training people with skills to earn their own income, and helping communities learn about and protect women and girls’ rights.