For someone like Esperance (above), a 42-year-old mother of 4, life in Burundi is hard. After years of conflict and then brief stability, the country struggles once again with physical and structural violence. Most recently, tensions, fear and violence have escalated with the decision by unpopular President Ngurunziza to run for a third term.

Families, such as Esperance’s, get caught up in conflict, despite living outside the capital where a heavy military presence, road blocks, unlawful arrests, and disappearances are commonplace and bring fear to the wider public. As part of the Batwa community, she is already marginalised and her rights diminished. But like many in Burundi, she is struggling with rocketing living costs (due to a devalued currency), restricted access to land and few meaningful employment opportunities – forcing poverty for many.

Before working with Cord, her family were living in very poor conditions creating separation with parts of her community. Our Batwa Livelihoods programme has been addressing the growing gap between Batwas and the local community and authorities.

We’ve helped her gain confidence to negotiate for land rights, and provided banana plantations and agricultural education to help grow and sell produce. She’s now able to produce more food than she can eat, enabling her to sell the surplus and create an income for her family. She’s also joined a local peace committee set up by Cord and feels able to contribute financially and vocally too.

Whilst there are positive steps being made at grass roots, the current situation in Burundi is challenging.

  • High birth rate
  • High dependence on land
  • Historical tribal, social, religious and economic divisions
  • Political and economic self-interest, in the hands of an elite few

Our approach for a peaceful and inclusive Burundi includes:

  • Reduce the government’s monopoly of land
  • Use education, services and capacity development to give young people opportunities to create income and be part of local decision making
  • Advocate with international organisations for a political solution in Burundi