From the time it gained independence in 1962 right up to the 1990s, Burundi has suffered from ethnic, politically and economically motivated violence. During these past few decades, it has barely enjoyed any economic growth and the country is one of the poorest in the world. Above all, it hardly has any natural resources, making it very difficult for the rural population to eke out a living. A lack of arable land combined with food shortages is causing malnutrition in the gradually increasing population. On average, every woman gives birth to six children.
Burundi is rebuilding. However, the peace attained through a long period of negotiation and international involvement is a fragile one. The country’s judicial system is a work in progress and, partly as a result of thousands of returning refugees, conflicts are constantly flaring up. Women in particular are the ones suffering from violence and judicial impunity.
The challenges that Burundi faces are considerable. The main priority is the development of the country into a democratic state with a properly functioning judicial system and governmental institutions that can guarantee the people security and give them access to agricultural land, basic healthcare, employment and education. Once the people of Burundi have a more stable future to look forward to, their confidence in the government will grow.
Cordaid in Burundi
Cordaid started working in Burundi over 25 years ago, since when, in collaboration with civil society partner organizations and with the national government, it has been striving to improve its healthcare system. Initially, the focus was on setting up mobile clinics in refugee camps and rolling out medical programs in those clinics. In the meantime, the emphasis has shifted more towards providing technical support to the government and local organizations. Cordaid has also started up a program that will improve sexual and reproductive health knowledge and provide better access to sexual-reproductive healthcare.
Burundi is one of the countries in which Cordaid has introduced Performance-Based Financing (PBF) in the context of sexual-reproductive healthcare. And successfully too, because the government has adopted this performance-based reward system and converted it into a national policy. In Burundi, Cordaid is also a strong advocate of the development of well-functioning public administration and justice and law enforcement systems at local level. One of the ways in which this is being realized is through the stimulation of women’s participation in local administration organs and by training women to give them leadership skills. Cordaid is also working with the national government on the implementation of National Action Plan 1325. In this plan the government is following the United Nations Resolution that strengthens the role of women in conflict negotiation during peacebuilding processes.