Burundi is experiencing recurrent humanitarian crises, including high incidences of malaria, cholera, measles, and population movements. In 2020, Burundi’s fragile health system confronted multiple health emergencies, including malaria, cholera, and measles. In 2021 and 2022, various shocks, including the COVID-19 pandemic, disease outbreaks, and the war in Ukraine, exacerbated the existing humanitarian needs thereby affecting vulnerable populations such as refugees and internally displaced persons. In recent years, the country has also confronted the potential spillover of the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Burundi is also particularly vulnerable to climate change and natural disasters such as floods, landslides, and drought that cause significant material damage and human displacement. Over 114,000 people – 83 percent of the internally displaced population in Burundi – are displaced due to disasters. Years of socio-political and economic crisis have had a serious impact on the population’s access to basic services, and the resilience of systems and communities to cope with recurring crises.
Women are often the first responders in a crisis, and whether en route or in camps, in home countries, or destination countries, they play a crucial role in caring for, sustaining, and rebuilding their communities. In Burundi 84,791 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in 19,407 households which is 91% of the displacement are mainly due to natural hazards such as flooding and landslides and 9% are asylum seekers and refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and Kenya. A majority of these people are hosted in five camps located in the eastern and northeastern regions of the country.
INERELA+ Burundi together with its partners (Burundi Red Cross, Department of Social Development, IOM, and Department of Health) have adopted a holistic and multi-sectoral lifesaving approach to improve the lives of the affected and at-risk populations. They are all united by a common cause: to save lives and leave no one behind. Their focus is on linking humanitarian action, development programming, and strengthening the resilience of communities and systems through providing critical assistance to cover their basic needs, such as food, health, water, sanitation, hygiene, shelter, and education. Nutritional support is given to pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, children under 5 years of age, and chronically ill people. They also offer protection for vulnerable people (children, women, girls, single parents, survivors of sexual violence, the elderly, and disabled people, including refugees, as well as enhancing their self-sufficiency and supporting their attainment of durable solutions. In addition to supporting victims, protection actions also include measures to prevent and control disease as well as reducing the risks of violence and abuse at the camps.
INERELA+ Burundi has also taken steps to increase the integration of gender-based violence risk mitigation in sectors like the Department of Social Development, National Aids Council, and Ministry of Gender in a bid to scale up gender-based violence prevention and response programming. Adequate resources remain a challenge.