Helping the Burundian People Cope with the Economic Crisis

The crisis triggered in 2015 by President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to run for a third term is ongoing. According to human rights organisation Ligue Iteka, 456 people were killed, 283 tortured and 2,338 subjected to arbitrary detention in 2017, the vast majority of them at the hands of the authorities. The East African Community’s mediation has become bogged down and the government has revised the constitution with the apparent goal of allowing Nkurunziza to remain in power until 2034. In the wake of this political and security crisis, the country’s economy has shrunk at an alarming rate and socio-economic progress made after the end of the civil war in the 2000s has been derailed. Although poverty remained widespread, it was gradually retreating, from 67.1 per cent of the population in 2006 to 64.6 per cent in 2014, thanks to macroeconomic stability and an important inflow of development funds. This report investigates how socio-economic woes affect people’s everyday lives, government actions and, consequently, the country’s stability and future prospects; it analyses the dilemmas facing donors and ways in which they could reduce the risk of violent conflict in Burundi. In addition to input from economic experts and business people, it is based on interviews with Burundians of various backgrounds who are locked in a daily struggle to ensure they support their families in one of the world’s poorest countries. Our findings are largely based on data from 2017; some figures have not been updated due to restricted access to Burundi.