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Burundi

Burundi is one of the 36 countries where we do research work in agriculture. Burundi is in our Eastern and Southern Africa region.
A man in a field in Burundi

Burundi is one of the five poorest countries in the world.  It is ranked 184 out of 188 countries in the Human Development Index 2016, and ranked last in the 2013 Global Hunger Index.

It is the second most densely populated country in Africa (11.18 million people and 470 people per square kilometre).  Nearly 65% of its population lives below the poverty line, and it has the third lowest GDP per capita in the world, after Somalia and the Central African Republic.    Food insecurity affects nearly half the population (around 4.6 million people), and more than half the children are stunted.  Access to water and sanitation is low, and less than 5% of the population has electricity.

Burundi’s economy is predominantly agricultural.  90% of the population work in agriculture, even if arable lands are rare.  The country exports coffee and tea, but exports are only a small share of the GDP; 40% of the national income comes from foreign aid, the second highest in Sub-Saharan Africa.  Demand for food, medicine and electricity outstrip supply, so Burundi has to import foodstuffs and petroleum products from Belgium and Saudi Arabia.

The country suffered an ethnic civil war between 1993 and 2006, in which 300,000 people were killed, 48,000 refugees fled to Tanzania, and 140,000 were displaced.  Peace was restored, but President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision in 2015 to run for what many Burundians believe is an unconstitutional third term plunged the country into crisis.  300,000 people have been displaced and hundreds killed.   The crisis disrupted the flow of agricultural goods, and has caused donors to withdraw aid.

At the time of writing (April 2017), both the Australian and British Governments have warned their citizens not to travel to the country.

RESEARCH PRIORITIES

  • Developing appropriate agroforestry systems that can help farmers to improve food security and livelihoods, diversify their farming systems, enhance climate resilience and support improved land management practices across farming landscapes

  • Improving market access for agroforestry products and strengthening community–private-sector partnerships through innovation platforms

  • Intensification and increased resilience in maize–legume–livestock-based mixed farming systems, to achieve improved dietary energy and nutritional quality, and increase household income