Fifty years, fifty countries: Burundi

ChildrenWorking through the local churchClimate change50 CountriesBurundi

To mark 50 years of Tearfund, we’re sharing about 50 countries where we’ve worked, celebrating God’s provision and power to transform, and praying for each of these nations. This week we’re in Burundi.

  • 42% of the national income comes from foreign aid
  • 17 is the median age, and about 46% of the population are 14 years of age or younger
  • 90% of the population are employed in agriculture and are reliant on good harvests
  • 16,000 babies die each year – one of the highest infant mortality rates in Africa

Burundi, in East Africa, is one of the poorest nations in the world. The mostly rural population are almost entirely reliant on agriculture for their income.

However, over-exploitation of the land has resulted in soil infertility, leading to widespread food shortages. Climate change and political instability have only made the situation worse, with many families fleeing to neighbouring countries. This is what led to Beni* being abandoned.

An act of desperation
Beni was just a baby when his parents abandoned him. Poverty had forced their hand – they simply didn’t have enough food or money to care for him.

His father was forced to look for work in Tanzania, while his mother decided to move to the capital city, Bujumbura. Neither of them felt as though they could take care of him any more.

If it weren’t for the compassion of another family, and the help of the local church, it’s unlikely that Beni would have survived.

Adopted into new life
Dangerously malnourished, Beni arrived at the doorstep of the Bukuru* family. They adopted him, but it wasn’t plain sailing – the family themselves were struggling to find enough food.

The local church was on hand to help. Tearfund have been helping churches in the region to set up and run feeding centres. The family brought Beni to the church to be screened, and he was immediately admitted to the feeding center.

Cynthia*, Beni’s new adoptive mother, describes the severity of the situation: ‘When we received Beni into our family, he was about to die. However, after two months at the feeding centre you can see how well he is. Now he has strength and joy. He plays with the other children.’

Emergency rescue
The main focus of the feeding programme is to help children under five years, pregnant women and lactating mothers affected by malnutrition. As well as providing fortified foods, our church partners are working hard to provide education on a wide range of health issues, such as safe water and sanitation, malaria, worms, and HIV and AIDS.

‘I thank Tearfund, which has enabled the church to bring this programme here,’ says Cynthia. ‘We now know how to feed Beni with a balanced diet to address malnutrition issues. We’d love for Tearfund to continue spreading this wonderful programme in other areas and rescue people suffering from hunger.’

To help ensure long-term food security, our partners are also providing improved soya and peanut seeds to plant in the farms and kitchen gardens that we’ve helped to establish. The church has also started running savings groups, which will help protect people like the Tharcisse family from future instability.

If you'd like to know more please visit the Burundi country page.

PRAY FOR THE WORK:

  • Pray for peace and restoration, so that Burundi can begin to function in unity.
  • Pray for God’s wisdom and provision in a country where food security remains a challenge. Lift up those who are struggling to make a living and pray that God will provide for their needs.
  • Give thanks for our staff and partners, who are working hard to ensure life-saving relief can reach those most in need.

*Names changed to protect identities

Burundi Crisis Appeal
could restore a child’s health by providing them with eight weeks of nutritious food and vitamins to treat malnutrition.
could provide seeds for four families to grow their own peanuts and vegetables, reducing the risk of slipping back into malnutrition.
could help a pregnant or breastfeeding mother attend a eight-week programme, where she will receive food and training in nutrition.