Summary: 20 February 2013, Brussels - EU Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs is launching an €18 million new project on food security for the benefit of around 20,000 households and to treat 80,000 undernourished children in Burundi. He will also launch a second project, worth €50 million, to provide access to sustainable energy for a million of Burundi's citizens, particularly for those living in rural areas.
An overview of Burundi
Burundi is a small, landlocked country that straddles Central and East Africa, with a total land area of 27,834 km2, and approximately 8.5 million inhabitants; about 15% of whom live in urban areas.
After many years of destructive civil war (1993-2000) which had a devastating effect on the country's economy and infrastructure, Burundi is still a very fragile country. It has enjoyed relative peace and slow but steady progress in the last seven years. Burundi's GDP per capita in 2012 is estimated at $270, making it still one of the poorest countries in the world. Most of the population lives on less than a dollar per day.
EU Development Work with Burundi
The EU has worked in development in Burundi since 2003, when the transition period after the war began. EU cooperation with Burundi is focused on the areas of health, rehabilitation, rural development, food security, budget support, good governance and civil society.
Between 2008-2013 (through the10th European Development Fund - EDF - and National Indicative Programme - NIP), the European Commission is providing €188 million to Burundi, for rural development and rehabilitation (€52m), the healthcare sector (€25m) and general budget support (€90m).
Other areas will also receive funding totalling €21m; including good governance, trade and support for the national authorizing officer.
Burundi benefits from an additional €18 million as part of the MDG Initiative to finance a project set up to improve the food security and nutrition situation of the country.
The total funding currently amounts to €210.7 M.
On top of this, Burundi benefits from an additional € 45.6 million for unforeseen needs ( part of the 10th EDF NIP) mainly in health and food security and €37 million under the EU budget lines to finance projects in the fields of food security, civil society and human rights.
The Commission decided to prioritise budget support, health, food security and rehabilitation in its work. The 10th EDF will also support civil society and governance projects.
Health projects in Burundi
a) 'Santé Plus' project (€11.5 million) - This project was set up in 2007 to provide a link between the humanitarian projects coming to an end and the reinforcement of longer term health structures. The project covers six provinces - Rutana, Ruyigi, Cankuzo, Karuzi, Makamba, Bururi (East and South-West of Burundi).
Thanks to this project, a functional 'health district' has been set up in six provinces (helping to improve decentralisation) and quality health services have been provided (through rehabilitation and equipment of health centre and staff training), thus helping to ensure better quality, accessible healthcare throughout Burundi.
b) Project 'Appui à la politique sectorielle de la santé au Burundi (PAPSBU), €25 million
This project, which is named 'Amagara Meza', or 'good health' in Kirundi, started in 2011 and covers eight provinces - Rutana, Ruyigi, Cankuzo, Karuzi, Makamba, Bururi, Bujumbura rural and Bubanza (East and West of Burundi). Its objective is to help the Burundian health system to provide quality health care services, thus improving the health of the population.
The project includes a component on 'Universal Coverage', which contributed to putting in place two innovative systems - Performance Based Financing (PBF), which links incentives to performance in order to improve the access, service and quality of healthcare, and the Health Insurance Card (HIC).
Thanks to EU support in health in Burundi with the above projects, over 3 million inhabitants in these provinces have benefited and will continue to benefit from improved access to better quality equipment and rehabilitation. Pregnant women and children under 5 have particularly benefited from the increased access to healthcare.
Health consultations for children under five have also multiplied by two between 2007 and 2008 and the rate of pregnant women giving birth assisted by trained staff has increased from 30.7% in 2006 to 60% in 2010.
However, Burundi's lack of energy continues to pose a serious problem for health services - especially for vaccinations and medicine safety.
Food and Nutrition Projects
More than 70% of the population in Burundi suffers from food insecurity and the current level of chronic malnutrition rate of 58% of children under five is one of the highest in Burundi for more than two decades. Burundi is among the six most affected countries in the world.
It is estimated that more than 90% of the population works in farming, due to a lack of jobs in other areas of the economy. Most of the poor are small farmers (with less than 0.5 hectares) who depend on food crops; a situation that applies particularly to women farmers who are household heads.
a) Project 'Contribution à l'allégement de la flambée des prix des denrées alimentaires par l'amélioration des capacités de production des associations exploitant les périmètres irrigués de l'Imbo'
The EU has provided €5.4 million for this programme under its Food Facility (set up to help developing countries to respond rapidly to problems caused by soaring food prices) and has been implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
The project has been designed to reduce the negative impact of rising food prices and the effects of the climate on the food security of vulnerable households in Burundi. It has helped to guarantee an increase in agricultural production and food supply on the market, in order to cope with the effects of soaring prices and weather conditions.
Ways in which it has made a difference include: the rehabilitation and development of 3,500 ha of irrigation; the reconstruction of 8km of a dike against flooding by the river Mutimbuzi; support to increase rice cultivation by 4 000 ha; providing producers with quality products such as seeds and fertilisers, reintroducing the animal traction system (using animals in agriculture and transportation), rehabilitating rural tracks and the construction of storage warehouses.
b) Project 'Réponse rapide à la flambée des prix alimentaires dans 8 Provinces au Burundi à travers le renforcement de la capacité productive agricole et l'appui aux formes d'agrégation paysannes pour la relance du secteur primaire et de la commercialisation'.
The project has also been funded under the Food Facility and implemented by a consortium of four Italian NGOs (AVSI, LVIA, VISPE and GVC). The EU contribution amounts to €1m. The project was set up to provide a rapid response to soaring food prices in rural areas of Burundi by strengthening agricultural production and support for farmers in order to improve agriculture in eight provinces in Burundi (Ngozi, Kayanza, Ruyigi, Rutana, Karuzi, Gitega, Bujumbura Mairie, Bubanza).
The project has helped to: construct an agro-industrial transformation centre in Bujumbura Mairie; provide quality seeds and fertilisers; build irrigation schemes; provide training and guidance on the management of resources; rehabilitate five storage warehouses and construct five rural outlets in the Provinces of Kayanza and Ngozi.
EU contribution through the Food Facility has supported Burundi in putting in place initiatives to respond rapidly to problems caused by soaring food prices. The flexibility it provided has been key to transforming emergency measures into medium-long term action in line with Burundi's national programmes.
c) Project MDG Initiative - 'Projet pour accélérer l'atteinte de l'OMD 1c (PROPA-O)'.
Thanks to an additional contribution of €18 million, the EU will further support Burundi efforts to improve the food security and nutrition situation of its population. The project is just starting and has been put in place to help Burundi reach MDG 1 'Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger') and specifically target c ('Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger'.)
The project covers the areas of Imbo and Moso, which show particularly alarming malnutrition rates; but at the same time have a certain potential for development of agricultural production. Activities will include: marshland irrigation, helping to develop production value chains, providing education on nutrition and helping to strengthen local health structures. It is expected to benefit around 20,000 households and treat 80,000 undernourished children.
d) Project 'Programme de renouvellement des équipements des différentes complexes theicoles de l'Office du Thé du Burundi (OTB)'
This project, funded by STABEX (the Système de Stabilisation des Recettes d'Exportation; a Commission finance scheme set up to remedy the harmful effects of the instability of export revenue from agricultural products) was set up to improve the exportable production of tea, thus helping to promote sustainable and fair economic growth.
The Burundian economy depends heavily on agriculture and tea and coffee are an important part of that. The project involves the replacement or rehabilitation of some old equipment in the various complexes of the 'Office du Thé du Burundi (O.T.B.)'. This resulted in the improvement of the quality of the dried tea, the increase in selling prices and therefore of the income of at least 50,000 households who cultivate tea. All production of green leaf is (33,000 tonnes in 2008) is now currently being treated in good conditions.
Before the renewal program, sales at the Mombasa tea auction were at around $1.5/kg. Now, thanks to the partial replacement of the equipment, the price now varies between 2.6 $/kg and 3.00 $/kg.
The EU is nevertheless well aware of the energy concern and of the constraint energy represents for all sectors of the economy of Burundi. It recently launched the 'Energy cooperation for the Great Lakes' initiative in order to achieve the objectives of the Sustainable Energy for All Initiative by 2030 (a UN initiative, supported by the EU, to help ensure universal energy access to modern energy services for all). Representatives from the European Commission, Burundi, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are cooperating closely and have recently finalised the roadmap for the implementation of this cooperation, which will now have to be ratified at a high level.
The EU gives its full support to regional projects such as Ruzizi, which aims to improve the capacity of energy production and the access to energy. Concerning Ruzizi III, the EU is ready to mobilise its financial instruments and to cooperate with the development banks and in particular with the European Investment Bank (EIB). The EU is also ready to support the rehabilitation of Ruzizi I and II provided that profitability and sustainability conditions are met.
The first condition which needs to be fulfilled is the setting up of the 'agence de basin du Lac Kivu - ABAKIR' which will guarantee the optimal management of the resources of Lake Kivu. The legal framework for setting up this agency is now ready and will be soon submitted for ratification by the three countries.
The EU's cooperation with Burundi dates back to 2003, when the transition period after the war began. EU cooperation with Burundi is focused on the areas of health, rehabilitation, rural development and food security, budget support, good governance and civil society and is making a difference to the lives of millions of Burundians. Thanks to EU support for healthcare, for example, over 3 million inhabitants have benefited from improved access to better quality equipment and rehabilitation.
The multi-annual indicative programme for Burundi under the 10th EDF amounts to €188 million to address these priorities. Additional € 18 million have been allocated to fight against food and nutrition insecurity in the framework of the MDG initiative.
The food and nutrition situation in Burundi is alarming. It is one of the poorest countries in the world, ranking 185/187 in the human development index (2011) and most of the population lives on less than a dollar per day. The current level of chronic malnutrition rate of 58% of children under 5 is one of the highest in more than two decades.
The current electrification rate in Burundi is about 4%. 60,000 households have access to electricity, compared to the 1.6 million households, or about 8 million people, who do not. Burundi's recurring conflict over the last 20 years has largely destroyed infrastructure, especially the country's energy generation, transmission and distribution systems. Wood (and charcoal), used for cooking, will remain the main source of energy for both rural and urban households for a long time. This has a serious negative effect both on health and the environment and can lead to respiratory diseases due to indoor air pollution.