Burundi’s first democratically elected president was assassinated in October 1993 after only 100 days in office, triggering widespread ethnic violence between Hutu and Tutsi factions. More than 200,000 Burundians perished during the conflict that spanned almost a dozen years. Hundreds of thousands of Burundians were internally displaced or became refugees in neighboring countries. An internationally brokered power-sharing agreement between the Tutsi-dominated government and the Hutu rebels in 2003 paved the way for a transition process that integrated defense forces, and established a new constitution and elected a majority Hutu government in 2005. The government of President Pierre NKURUNZIZA, who was reelected in 2010 and again in a disputed election in 2015, continues to face many political and economic challenges.
English, French & Kirundi
LOCATION/TERRAIN & CLIMATE:
Central Africa, east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, west of Tanzania
Hilly and mountainous, dropping to a plateau in east, some plains
Equatorial; high plateau with considerable altitude variation (772 m to 2,670 m above sea level); average annual temperature varies with altitude from 23 to 17 degrees Celsius but is generally moderate as the average altitude is about 1,700 m; average annual rainfall is about 150 cm; two wet seasons (February to May and September to November), and two dry seasons (June to August and December to January)
Nickel, uranium, rare earth oxides, peat, cobalt, copper, platinum, vanadium, arable land, hydropower, niobium, tantalum, gold, tin, tungsten, kaolin, limestone
68% of the population lives below the poverty line.
Burundi is a landlocked, resource-poor country with an underdeveloped manufacturing sector. Agriculture accounts for over 40% of GDP and employs more than 90% of the population. Burundi’s primary exports are coffee and tea, which account for 90% of foreign exchange earnings. Thus, Burundi’s export earnings – and its ability to pay for imports – rest primarily on weather conditions and international coffee and tea prices, although exports are a relatively small share of GDP. Burundi is heavily dependent on aid from bilateral and multilateral donors. Foreign aid in 2014 represented 42% of Burundi’s national income, the second highest rate in Sub-Saharan Africa. Burundi joined the East African Community (EAC) in 2009.
An ethnic war that ended in 2005 resulted in more than 200,000 deaths, forced more than 48,000 refugees into Tanzania, and displaced 140,000 others internally. Political stability, aid flows, and economic activity improved following the end of the civil war, but underlying weaknesses – a high poverty rate, poor education rates, a weak legal system, a poor transportation network, overburdened utilities, and low administrative capacity – have prevented the government from implementing planned economic reforms. Government corruption has also hindered the development of a private sector as companies have to deal with ever changing rules. The purchasing power of most Burundians has decreased as wage increases have not kept pace with inflation.
In 2015, Burundi’s economy suffered from political turmoil over President NKURUNZIZA’s controversial third term. Blocked transportation routes disrupted the flow of agricultural goods. And donors withdrew aid, increasing Burundi’s budget deficit. When the unrest ends, regional infrastructure improvements driven by the EAC and funded by the World Bank may help improve Burundi’s transport connections and lower transportation costs.
Industry: Light consumer goods (blankets, shoes, soap), assembly of imported component
Agriculture: Coffee, cotton, tea, corn; beef
Exports: Coffee, tea, sugar, cotton, hides
Current situation: Burundi is a source country for children and possibly women subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking; business people recruit Burundian girls for prostitution domestically, as well as in Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, and the Middle East, and recruit boys and girls for forced labor in Burundi and Tanzania; children and young adults are coerced into forced labor in farming, mining, informal commerce, fishing, or collecting river stones for construction; sometimes family, friends, and neighbors are complicit in exploiting children, at times luring them in with offers of educational or job opportunities
Tier Rating: Tier 3 – Burundi does not comply fully with the minimum standards for the elimination of human trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so; corruption, a lack of political will, and limited resources continue to hamper efforts to combat human trafficking; in 2014, the government did not inform judicial and law enforcement officials of the enactment of an anti-trafficking law or how to implement it and approved – but did not fund – its national anti-trafficking action plan; authorities again failed to identify trafficking victims or to provide them with adequate protective services; the government has focused on transnational child trafficking but gave little attention to its domestic child trafficking problem and adult trafficking victims (2015)
For many orphans living in Burundi’s orphanages, every day is a struggle. Lacking the funding to meet the most basic of needs, many orphanages are unable to provide beds, healthy food, or access to an education. AGCI is working to partner with the Central Authority office in Burundi to elevate care in existing orphanages and provide orphans with the loving care and resources they need to thrive! Burundi is now one of the first African countries to embrace the regulations of the Hague Convention— A BIG DEAL!!!