© UNICEF/NYHQ1997-1321/Pirozzi

Children visit a UNICEF-supported health post in Ngozi Province. Conflict, widespread poverty and climate change are all contributing to increased food insecurity across much of the country.

Critical Issues for Children and Women

After 16 years of crisis, significant strides have been made toward peace and development in Burundi, including the demobilization of the remaining rebel group.  The main challenges facing the country are widespread poverty and unemployment, aggravated not only by the rapid population growth that followed the recent return of more than 500,000 Burundians from Rwanda and the United Republic of Tanzania, but also by floods and drought.  Food security remains problematic, and the country has one of the highest rates of chronic malnutrition in the region.  Access to safe water sources and improved sanitation is limited, and the most vulnerable communities face a constant threat of cholera, dysentery and malaria.  The economic downturn has also increased child abuse and exploitation, and doubled school drop-out rates to 9 per cent in some of the hardest hit provinces.  Moreover, 283,000 primary-school-aged children are not enrolled in school, leaving them vulnerable to a range of development problems as well as gender-based violence. 

Planned Humanitarian Action for 2010

In 2010, together with the Government of Burundi and key partners such as the Burundi Red Cross, CONCERN, Gruppo Volontari Civile, the International Medical Corps, the International Rescue Committee, Norwegian Refugee Council and other aid groups, UNICEF will help ensure that 550,000 children have access to health and nutrition care, safe drinking water, basic sanitation and hygiene facilities, educational opportunities, as well as protection and reintegration support.  While continuing its preparedness to ensure life-saving and immediate response, UNICEF will also support risk reduction and prevention, and assume cluster leadership for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene and Education, and the role of coordinator of the Nutrition Working Group.  Following are the expected results of UNICEF emergency interventions:

Health and Nutrition: UNICEF will contribute to the development of an effective nutrition surveillance system to monitor the nutritional status of children under five, and continue to support community-based management of acute malnutrition. In partnership with the Government, UNICEF will implement a programme to facilitate access to essential emergency health-care services, to include basic emergency obstetric and newborn care services and malaria prevention.

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH):  Access to a safe water supply and sanitation as per Sphere standards will be made available for up to 20,000 persons in cholera-affected areas, including at schools and health facilities, through the construction and rehabilitation of water supply systems and sanitary facilities. Adequate hygiene behaviours will be encouraged in schools and host communities through regular promotion activities and provision of hygiene kits.

Education: UNICEF will coordinate emergency response and actively support preparedness of all partners in the Education Cluster.  Focus will be on providing access to safe education environments for more than 400,000 most vulnerable emergency-affected children.

Child Protection: In the context of peace-building and the upcoming 2010 elections, UNICEF will work to strengthen the capacities of government ministries, NGOs and other caregivers to prevent, prepare for and respond to any type of violence, abuse and exploitation that might affect children in situations of crisis. Specific attention will be paid to the psychosocial component of the assistance, and the central role of community and grass roots child protection networks.

Summary of UNICEF Emergency Needs to fulfil
Core Commitments for Children for 2010
Sector US$
Health and Nutrition 3,050,000
Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) 500,000
Education 3,697,000
Child Protection 473,000
Total 7,720,000