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Alliance Burundaise pour la Coopération et le Développement &
Austrian Help Program

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Livestock play a pivotal role in Burundi's agriculture, contributing significantly to food security, smallholder income and maintenance of soil fertility.  As well, livestock play the role of 'savings banks on the hoof', because the majority of small farmers have no access to banking or savings and loan facilities.  Due to ease of care, size, fast reproduction, and decreasing availability of fodder, goats have become the most important livestock breed on small farms in Burundi.

However, as a result of the 1993 civil war and ensuing insecurity, the livestock sector has been decimated and most rural families lost all or most of their livestock.  Because of the importance of livestock in providing manure to the intensified cropping systems of the country, crop production has been adversely affected.  Livestock-based small enterprises have also seriously diminished and technical assistance to reinvigorate them is lacking.   As well, many livestock professionals fled the country or were killed, and those remaining are isolated from information and from resources for upgrading their skills.

In addition, local informal markets where farmers sell livestock and livestock by-products have been destroyed or seriously reduced. These local markets are being replaced, in part, by long distance merchants who pay very low prices to the farmer and sell at very high prices to final consumers.

Adding to these problems, the growing impact of HIV/AIDS and other illnesses are seriously impacting on family structures as well as on whole communities.  Child-headed households, one-parent or grandparent headed-households, street children, and easier induction of youth into rebel forces are the tragic results. 

Finally, now that the 10-year war is coming to an end and a peace accord has been recently signed between the transitional government and the largest rebel group, demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants – as well as the return of over 500,000 refugees to their homes – will place exceptional demands on the country for livestock, training of returnees and of livestock professionals and other activities that can meet the needs of these returning populations.  Although the challenges are great; the people are  committed to rebuilding their lives & livelihoods.

Burundi is located in central Africa and is one of the most densely inhabited countries in Africa. 

The climate is tropical humid, except along Lake Tanganyika where less rain prevails.  Over 85% of the population are subsistence farmers who practice intensive, mixed farming on small plots.  Livestock - especially goats - are an important part of farming systems, supplying manure, providing meat and prestige, and acting as "savings banks on the hoof".

Ethnic conflict has prevailed for decades, and has resulted in over 200,000 dead, forced 800,000 refugees in Tanzania and other countries, and displaced 525,000 others internally.  Following a peace accord in 2003, a transitional government is now in place, demobilization of ex-rebels is occurring, and armed conflict has greatly reduced in most areas of the country.  Elections are scheduled to take place in early 2005.


Rusizi River & Wetlands

The Project compound is located on the north shore of Lake Tanganyika and is the very green area just at the point of the arrow.  The capital of Bujumbura is located to the right; the large, gray rectangle is the city's very efficient water treatment facility.  The square green area behind the compound and towards the top of the photo is Camp Gakumbu, the major military installation in the area that serves the Congo border area as well as the international airport, which is located at the top and outside of the picture.   Kajaga,  village where we obtain rice straw and other materials, is the brown oblong between the compound and Camp Gakumbu.


The Rusizi River  and wetlands contain many aquatic and land species, including hippopotami, crocodile, various gazelle species, and numerous species of birds.  The small town of Gatumba is to the left of the river, adjacent to the Congo border, and the Project compound is situated just outside of the picture, to the right, adjacent to the lake – about 4 km away.  The fields belonging to inhabitants of Kajaga village, about  1/2 a kilometer in back of the compound, are in the dark green area in the upper right corner of the picture. 

The transit refugee camp that was attacked by forces from the  Congo in mid-August, 2004, is located at the outskirts of Gatumba town.  The UN and Burundi army now send heavily armed convoys and armored vehicles to the area every evening.  In the meantime, an alternative refugee camp is being organized inland, but most of those now at the transit camp in Gatumba want to remain close to the border, in order to keep in touch with family back in the Congo, and cannot be forced to move to safer areas.


Two of the women from a nearby village, who are receiving improved Project bucks together with technical training.


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