IPSDI: Initiative for Promoting Rural Health and Integrated Development in Burundi

Burundi’s history as an independent country is characterised by high political instability and violence. Since the Arusha Peace Accord in 2000, Burundi has achieved relative stability and a degree of economic recovery. The reelection of the president in 2015 triggered a political crisis that claimed more than 500 lives and displaced 400,000 peoples (UNHCR). Since 2016 violence has drastically decreased across the country including Bujumbura.

Burundi is exceptionally poor with fragile development gains being eroded by the country’s political crisis. Long-term economic issues – including land and resources – continue to fuel violence.

Burundi ranks 183rd out of 188 countries in the UN’s Human Development Index. Nearly 65% of the population live below the poverty line –  overwhelmingly rural where most of the country’s poor are small-scale farmers. Burundi’s economy is heavily reliant on agriculture which employs 90% of the population, with good arable land extremely scarce.

There have been some marginal improvements since 2012 when exiled rebel leaders were allowed to enter state politics and the establishment of a truth and reconciliation commission. Security sector reform efforts were undermined by the withdrawal of international development cooperation and Burundi has failed to capitalise on its membership of the East African Community (EAC) by not replicating the sort of development seen in other parts of the region, leaving it socially and economically isolated.

It remains highly dependent on aid and the suspension of EU assistance has compounded its economic woes.

Food insecurity is at alarming levels with the country ranked at the bottom of the 2013 Global Hunger Index. Almost one in two households (around 4.6 million people) are food insecure with more than half of children under-developed as a result, according to World Food Program reports in 2014 and 2016.

Access to clean water and sanitation is as low as 14 per cent of the population, according to the Ministry of Mines and Energy, with less than five percent of the country’s population having access to electricity (World Bank, 2016).

Economic growth stayed negative in 2017 due to the fragile political environment, while private consumption weakened following a contraction in food production, due to climate shocks, a longer than expected lean season and forced migrations (refugees and IDPs). In March 2016 the country’s main donors (the European Union, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and the United States) suspended part of their direct aid due to the country’s socio-political crisis since 2015.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA 2017 Report Index), Burundi remains the hungriest per capita nation. Vulnerabilities: poverty, economic damage from 2015 crisis, psychological trauma from cycles of past conflict, instability in the region and food insecurity with particular consequences from the impact of climate change and the most impacted are the refugees/returnees and IDPs.

IPSDI is a national non-profit organisation established to reduce social and economic problems and to improve the living conditions of vulnerable communities. IPSDI Burundi has been operational for seven years, is governed by an oversight committee with day-to-day activities decided by its Executive Committee made up of key staff, which meets weekly with 35 members of a General Assembly.

IPSDI Burundi has a dedicated staff team among whose responsibilities are the gathering and analysis of data in project management information systems. In the first instance, therefore, IPSDI Burundi is responsible for impact measurement, technical support for field development skills and project monitoring and evaluation.

IPSDI Burundi also holds and organises regular meetings with its beneficiaries to better understrand and meet their needs, to guide them and to verify that the activities are well conducted and implemented. The project staff receive regular training on both outcomes and indicators of the project(s) to better prepare them for their responsibilities of those outcomes.

The overall objective of IPSDI Burundi is to Support vulnerable communities in promoting integrated development through education, health care and capacity building to improve quality and standard of living.