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Burundi: Junge schöpft Wasser von einer neuen Wasserpumpe

We are here in Burundi

The contrast between the glowing, green hills of this beautiful African country and the bitter suffering of the population is poignant. Poverty, scarcity of farmland, and tensions give rise to recurring conflicts, especially related to access to land. Our goal is to contribute to peaceful communities to foster sustainable development.

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total population of Burundi
lives below the poverty level
Burundian refugees returned home since 2017

multiple crises

Why work in Burundi?

Burundi is experiencing a chronic crisis, with a devastating impact on the economy. Climate change results in less predictable agricultural seasons, and only half of the population has access to a sustainable source of drinking water. High population density and Burundi’s dependence on subsistence farming causes scarcity of land and triggers land conflicts, exacerbated by a large numbers of returned Burundian refugees from neighbouring countries.

In Burundi, ZOA works with conflict and natural disaster affected populations in Makamba, Cibitoke and Rumonge. We target especially vulnerable farmer households and youth. Through our integrated approach, we support vulnerable people who are struggling to survive. We are active in the field of peacebuilding (especially land rights), food security and livelihoods and WASH.

Promoting peace and stability

Since 2014, ZOA has been implementing land tenure registration projects in all 6 districts of Makamba province. Our objective is to secure land ownership and reduce the number of conflicts arising around land. We established six district land registration offices, through which around 176,000 land parcels were registered. During the same period, around 19,500 land conflicts were resolved. We are currently implementing a land tenure registration project in Nyanza-Lac district, funded by RVO (Dutch government). During the past decade, a high number of Burundian refugees returned to this district of Makamba province. The level of land conflicts in Nyanza-Lac district is also very high.

Our land tenure registration projects pay special attention to women’s land rights, as they are the backbone of households and farms. Since land conflicts are a severe threat to insecurity in Burundi, our local partner MiPAREC trains local village structures Commissions de Reconnaissance Collinaire (CRCs) in land conflict mediation. These CRCs are specifically mandated by Burundian land law to resolve disputes between landowners. On village level peace committees have been created and trained to make conflict mediation accessible for the most vulnerable. These peace committees represent different social groups and do not ask anything in return for their services. Their approach is to always look for reconciliation between different parties in conflict, so that no grievances remain.

How does ZOA work on land rights?

Facts and figures about ZOA's work in Burundi in 2022

With a team of 50 staff members we supported 26,691 people.

households improved their food security and livelihood
villages were supported with land rights
of our budget was spent on recovery

Support families to promote food security

ZOA has been implementing the PIP approach since 2016. To date, we have covered a total of 146 villages (around 60,000 households) in Cibitoke, Rumonge and Makamba provinces. The PIP-approach is based on stirring farmers’ intrinsic motivation and triggers a mentality change. Farmers are challenged to visualize their ideas about the change they would like to see in their lives and households in three to five years time. They learn how to create goals and work towards them. A detailed planification of the household’s activities, income and expenditures is made involving all household members. To support their livelihood, village savings and loans committees (VSLAs) were formed as well. To date, around 840 VSLA’s are active and 36 villages have also been supported to develop and implement their own village development plan.

We are Able! 

People with disabilities often face stigma, stereotypes, and physical barriers, therefore people with disabilities often lack access to services and land and they are not considered in policy making processes, as their capacities are not seen and their voices are not heard.

The We are Able! project (2021-2025), financed by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is implemented in 2 districts of Cibitoke and 2 districts of Makamba together with consortium partners UPHB, VNGi, The Leprosy Mission and The Hague Academy for Local Gouvernance. The project helps to strengthen the position and resilience of people with disabilities so that they have improved food security, through the PIP-approach where household members, including people with disabilities elaborate their own vision and planning. In order to strengthen the voice of people with disabilities we work with 12 Organizations of People with Disabilities (OPDs). These OPDs receive trainings on Lobby and Advocacy so that they can influence decision making processes. The local authorities of the 4 districts also receive training on the importance of disability inclusion in their laws and policies through dialogue between the people with disabilities and the authorities.

The personal stories of people with disabilities here will inform you on the project.

Improve access to clean water and sanitation

Only 52 per cent of the Burundian population has access to a sustainable source of clean drinking water. Combined with inadequate access to sanitary facilities and limited knowledge on good hygienic practices, cholera is a recurring problem in Burundi. We work to improve access to clean drinking water, both in villages and schools. This helps fight diseases like diarrhea and cholera, thus contributing to public health. Through different projects, we rehabilitated natural water springs, constructed latrine blocks and established hygiene clubs at primary schools. We help children attend school, and we particularly focus on the importance of education for girls.

working together

Donors and partners

During the past decade, our work in Burundi has been funded by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, USAID, IOM, UNICEF, WHO, ZOA Business Ambassadors and our constituency in the Netherlands. In Burundi, we work closely together with our local partners MIPAREC (for conflict resolution) and UPHB (for people living with a handicap). We also work together with VNG International (who are specialized in capacity building of local government). 

Juvénal Ntarima, ZOA's team leader in Rumonge

I was amazed by the strongly increased household cohesion as a result of the simple means of drawing a family tree, creating a joint vision and working towards that vision by sharing responsibilities.