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Burundi map
UNICEF photo: children playing outside © UNICEF Burundi/2016/Y.Nijimbere Children play in a site for internally displaced persons in the flood-affected community of Gatumba.


In 2017, UNICEF and partners plan for:

children under 5 screened for severe acute malnutrition (SAM)


children under 5 provided with essential drugs


affected people access at least 7.5 liters of clean water per person per day

2017 Requirements: US$18,500,000

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Total people in need: 3 million
Total children (<18) in need: 1.2 million

Total population to be reached in 2017: 1 million
Total children to be reached in 2017: 600,000

The cycle of violence and unrest that Burundi has been experiencing since April 2015 has become protracted. An estimated 110,000 people are displaced and 325,000 have fled to neighbouring countries.1 Communities are experiencing the erosion of coping mechanisms, with chronically high levels of food and nutrition insecurity, as well as recurring flooding and displacement. The protection crisis is disproportionately affecting children, who make up approximately half of Burundi’s population. One year after the freezing of aid and the collapse of the local economy, women and children are facing declining access to basic social services, including health care, nutrition support, water and sanitation. Recent inter-agency needs assessments indicate that 3 million people, including 1.2 million children, have been affected by the crisis and economic collapse and will continue to require humanitarian assistance in 2017. In addition, an estimated 62,500 children under 5 will require treatment for severe acute malnutrition (SAM).2 A recent mass screening showed a deterioration in the nutrition situation in Kirundo Province, with average global acute malnutrition increasing from 7.2 to 8.9 per cent, and average SAM increasing from 1.8 to 2.3 per cent. SAM prevalence is above the World Health Organization emergency threshold in four out of seven communes.3

Humanitarian strategy

2017 programme targets


  • 600,000 children under 5 screened for SAM5
  • 50,000 children under 5 treated for SAM


  • 100 per cent of affected people treated for cholera
  • 175,000 children under 5 provided with essential drugs


  • 170,000 affected people access at least 7.5 litres of clean water per person per day
  • 300,000 affected people provided with information on good hygiene practices

Child protection

  • 30,000 children and adolescents, affected by the crisis, benefit from critical child protection services including gender based violence (GBV) services


  • 100,000 children benefit from education-in-emergencies services
  • 2,500 teachers trained on education in emergencies, including psychosocial support

Communication for development

  • 125,000 children benefiting from peace, social mobilization and life-skills education, including HIV prevention

UNICEF is working to maintain the fragile development gains made since 2003 by supporting the Government to restore public service delivery systems, while addressing multiple humanitarian situations. As lead or co-lead of five sectors – nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), education, child protection and health – UNICEF is supporting the resilience of the most affected populations, particularly women and children, by ensuring access to essential services and information. UNICEF will continue to strengthen and/or develop mechanisms to engage communities, including building constructive dialogue and community mobilization for peacebuilding. Communication for Development will be used as a cross-cutting strategy. A cash transfer programme targeting the most deprived populations is being assessed. As part of its social policy work, UNICEF is closely monitoring resource allocation to social sectors and will continue to advocate for assistance to Burundi’s most vulnerable children and families.

Results from 2016

As of 31 October 2016, UNICEF had received US$10.6 million against the US$16.5 million appeal (64 per cent funded).4 In 2016, UNICEF responded through a combination of activities. When needed, development funding was reallocated to ensure the implementation of key activities, especially in child protection, education and Communication for Development. In total, UNICEF reached 25,482 children and adolescents with critical child protection services and screened 597,877 children in the six most-affected provinces for malnutrition, which led to the immediate identification and treatment of 31,014 children. UNICEF strategically resupplied government stocks of essential drugs and vaccines to cover the needs of 175,000 children under 5 and pregnant women and provided cholera kits and equipment for the management of 393 cholera cases. The UNICEF WASH response addressed current vulnerabilities and linked these efforts to long-term resilience building. A total of 72,675 affected people accessed safe and clean water with UNICEF support.

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Funding requirements

In line with the country’s inter-agency 2017 Humanitarian Response Plan, UNICEF is requesting US$18.5 million for 2017 to meet the humanitarian needs of children and women in Burundi. Without additional funding, UNICEF will be unable to support the national response to the country’s continuing nutrition crisis and provide critical health and WASH services to affected communities, including internally displaced people facing the spread of cholera and other water-borne diseases. Basic supplies for primary education and support for child protection are also urgently needed.

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1 Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, ‘2017 Burundi Humanitarian Needs Overview’, OCHA, November 2016.
2 Ibid.
3 UNICEF Burundi preliminary results from mass nutrition screening, October 2016.
4 Available funds included funding received against the current appeal of US$9.3 million and US$1.3 carried forward from the previous year.
5 In 2017, the total SAM under-five caseload is 62,500. The UNICEF target is 50,000 children or 80 per cent of the caseload. UNICEF Burundi’s SAM target is covered entirely through the humanitarian programme.