Burundi in East Africa has nearly 9 million inhabitants covering 27,800 km². Since its independence in 1962, the country has experienced repeated political crises that have involved serious outbreaks of violence between the two main ethnic groups: the majority Hutu and the minority Tutsi.
The economy of Burundi is mainly rural and based almost exclusively on agriculture, with exports in coffee, tea, cotton and livestock. As a result, the economy remains fragile because of its strong dependence on the primary sector that accounts for 40 percent of the GDP.
Almost 70 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, according to 2012 estimates by World Bank. At the bottom of the league for most development indicators, it is the fifth poorest country in the world. Malnutrition is rife, with 52 percent of children younger than 5 chronically malnourished.
HIV/AIDS has a national prevalence rate of 1.3 percent among adults, ages 15-49, according to 2012 Joint United Nations Programme HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) estimates. Heterosexual contact is the main mode of transmission, and women account for 60 percent of adults living with HIV/AIDS.
A number of factors account for the staggering number of people affected by the epidemic: poverty, the status of women, displacement, sexual violence against women due to the 13 years of conflict, the increase in sexually transmitted infections (STIs), poor communication and information, taboos related to sexuality, religious beliefs and more. Today, AIDS is the leading cause of death among adults and the leading cause of infant mortality in Burundi.
Despite the existence of institutions and local NGOs fighting against HIV/AIDS, there is still a long way to go in the field of voluntary screening and prevention. The Burundi AIDS Committee estimates an HIV infection rate of 9.5 percent in Bujumbura, but the reality is that very few people know their HIV status. In Bwiza and its surroundings, local officials estimate that 90 percent of households are affected by AIDS. Anti-retroviral drugs are free because they are provided by the Global Fund. However, many do not have access to basic healthcare for the treatment of common diseases. Mutual health payments cover only half of the costs of consultation and hospitalization; drugs are often expensive and attendance at hospital is low.
Our areas of focus
FXB started work in Burundi in November 2006. Since then, FXB has completed several FXBVillage programs, bringing almost 3,500 adults and children out of extreme poverty. Its first program was the launch of Bwiza FXBVillage in Bujumbura city. Bujumbura has a population of about 700,000 and is built on the Lake Tanganyika plain. With 13 communes, each commune is divided into many neighborhoods, some of which lack essential infrastructure. In Bujumbura, the average household size is seven people. Families tend to be run by women who live off small businesses, selling food, charcoal, clothing and drinks. Some families do not earn enough to cover all their needs. The government, with its very limited resources, is trying to promote the rights of the child by providing primary healthcare for children younger than 5 and pregnant women, as well as offering free education at the primary level.
The Batwa community (pygmy), which constitutes 1 percent of Burundi’s population, traditionally were servants. Tradition is sometimes hard to change and their perception as servants continues to dominate their lives. The births of Batwa are unrecorded, so with no legal status, they have no rights to public amenities such as health services. About 15 percent of the participants in the two FXBVillages currently ongoing in Buterere are Batwa families.
Two FXBVillage programs are ongoing in the Buterere commune, a particularly difficult community. Buterere currently serves as the garbage dumping ground for the surrounding municipalities because the city was less densely populated than its neighboring cities.
Our future plans
- Empower an additional 200 families to overcome extreme poverty
- Ensure at least 1,000 children and their families live in safe, hygienic homes, with access to clean water and sanitation
- Ensure at least 700 children regularly attend and excel in school, with 40 youths completing vocational training and creating their own jobs
- Ensure at least 10,000 adults are educated on HIV/AIDS prevention, child protection and the reduction of child and female exploitation
- Find new partners to replicate the FXBVillage poverty alleviation program to support and empower vulnerable families of Burundi