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"HEART OF AFRICA"
Burundi Goat Rehabilitation Project

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

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The Role of Restocking in Crisis Mitigation:
The Case of Burundi

D. de Treville.   Proceedings of the 8th  International Congress on Goats, South Africa, July 2004.   Research funded by the International Livestock Research Institute – Animal Agriculture Research Network and supported by Institute des Sciences Agronomiques du Burundi (ISABU).

Objective

A study was conducted by the Humanitarian Organization Alliance Française pour la Développement & le Coopération–Burundi, in collaboration with the Animal Agriculture Research Network of the International Livestock Research Institute (AARNET-ILRI), to better understand and document the role of restocking as a key coping and recovery mechanism during post-crisis reconstruction, in the intensive mixed farming systems of Burundi.  The study also included a preliminary assessment of post-war livestock and livestock sector conditions in the country.

- A full copy of this article is available from burundigoats@yahoo.com

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Boy & triplets
Goats are an important component of Burundian small farms, but up to 98% have been lost during a decade of  civil war and unrest..  Herd upgrading, training & restocking are key project strategies.

Abstract:

The most recent political crisis in Burundi, and its aftermath, have resulted not only in loss of life, migrations outside of Burundi, and thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) – it has also resulted in the destruction of up to 98% of all livestock in the country, particularly goats, through slaughter, theft, disease and starvation.

Since Burundi has a tradition of over 100 years of more and more intensive agriculture in which livestock are being increasingly integrated into farming systems for use of manure and as income earners, this loss of livestock has been devastating for rehabilitating the agricultural sector. Efforts to address the problem have been met in the donor and NGO communities primarily by the simple distribution of stock, sometimes with a bit of short-term veterinary assistance.  In other words, restocking by some projects and agencies has been approached mainly as a short-term relief-distribution activity – not as a long-term sustainable development activity.

However, this study suggests that the simple distribution of livestock to resettled refugees and ex-combatants cannot in itself solve problems in the livestock sector .   Unknown numbers of livestock distributed by international, NGO [Non-Governmental Organizations] and other organizations have died, been stolen, been sold for immediate financial needs, or suffered varying degrees of growth stunting, disease and malnutrition.
 

Returning refugees and ex-combatants are faced with a multitude of reconstruction issues in re-establishing their intensive agricultural practices: composting pits; terracing; banana and coffee gardens; micro-irrigation systems; boundary/terrace plantings with fodder crops; etc. In the face of a total collapse of extension services and near-collapse of informal marketing arrangements, together with an overall absence of income generating opportunities, information is lacking and farmers have little money to buy necessary inputs.

 

Ngozi farmer and  small farm plots.
Population density in most of rural Burundi is over 300 persons per sq. Ha, resulting in over-exploitation that requires intensive reconstruction, terracing, fodder crops,  and other inputs

Likewise, farmgate prices are not responding to real market demand but, as noted by IFAD (the International Fund for Agricultural Development) and by FAO (the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), farmers tend to organize their sales as distress sales, rather than in response to market demand.  This further restricts farmer options and initiatives in post-crisis livestock sector reconstruction. Even though farmers would like to restock, both financially and in terms of livestock inputs most are unable to do so,

Farmers must therefore contend with conditions that – while livestock are in high demand – negatively impact on longer term issues of healthy sustainability of restocked animals together with their proper incorporation into these increasingly intensive mixed farming systems. In addition, post-crisis livestock movements across the country between Tanzania, Rwanda and the Congo have exacerbated the situation by introducing new pathogens, while sub-optimal livestock husbandry practices resulting from crisis conditions and from isolation are exacerbating health and nutrition problems among remaining livestock.

The paper discusses results of this study, as well as current efforts to address most important problems, including professional and farmer training and workshops, joint livestock sector assessments with FAO, and crossbreeding and herd improvement programs.  The importance of characterizing and upgrading the indigenous, Central African Goat is also be discussed.

 

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