Indigenous Trees Transform Lives in Burundi

Written by Plant With Purpose on July 21, 2016 in General

Plant With Purpose helps farmers to access land to farm and to maximize their productivity through sustainable farming techniques. Through Village Savings and Loan Associations, individuals are working together to save their money and provide loans to other group members. And through church-based Bible studies, people are experiencing the sustaining and reconciling love of God.

The challenges faced by smallholder farming families in Burundi are significant, but so is their determination. And as they come together to increase their crop production, they are also planting peace in their communities.


A Country With Great Needs

Burundi ranks as one of the world’s hungriest country, and 80 percent of its 8.5 million people live below the poverty line (2012 Global Hunger Index, World Bank). The extreme poverty is linked to a violent history of ethnic conflict and genocide. After Burundi’s civil war ended in 2006, large numbers of people who had fled the violence began returning to their homeland, increasing the need for food security, economic development, and reconciliation.

Burundi is a tiny, landlocked country bordering Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Tanzania. It has one of the highest population densities in the world, and the average farm plot is only 1 acre (IFAD). At least 90 percent of Burundians depend on agriculture for their livelihood, yet their limited farmland has been devastated by deforestation, drought, war, and over-farming (World Bank).


Burundi Indigenous Tree Project

Indigenous trees in Burundi are nearly nonexistent. Deforestation is rampant as trees provide a source of income for the rural poor as byproducts are sold as fuelwood or charcoal to be used for cooking. Land is also cleared for farming or grazing.

Plant With Purpose is strategically working in four watersheds in Burundi. Our aim is to focus on a manageable size of land, plant indigenous trees, and work intensively with these communities to restore their surrounding environment. Working within a focused area allows for greater impact and sustainable progress. And planting trees is a driving force in the restoration process.


Progress in the Field

BurundiIn February 2014, Plant With Purpose initiated a major reforestation effort in the Nyakazu watershed. Two-years later, the native trees are flourishing and local children are tasting their delights.

Our staff recently came upon four children foraging for fruit in the recently planted area. When the children come out of school, they often pass by this place to see whether or not there is any ripe fruit to be picked. It is not unusual for monkeys and baboons to provide competition in the hunt for fruit!

According to Divine (in the middle of the photo), “We are very happy to see fruit reappearing that had totally disappeared. When we come from school, we often pass by to eat and go home with full tummies!”


Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots

We see this competition between school kids and primates as a good thing. Burundi was once the habitat for a number of endangered primates including chimps, lowland gorillas, and mountain gorillas. Plant With Purpose Burundi recently teamed up with Jane Goodall’s Roots and Shoots organization to bring back indigenous trees in an effort to restore the local environment to the point where these vulnerable primates can be reintroduced. As Plant With Purpose provides the knowledge of integrating farming and environmental restoration, Jane Goodall and her team are providing technical support and guidance in how the land can support both families and primates. It really is a unique partnership.


Because of Indigenous Trees in Burundi,
we expect to see:

Plant With Purpose’s transformational impact on livelihoods in this area. We have learned that you can’t fix the land until you address the needs of the people living on that land. We expect poverty reduction rates to keep in-line with our global stats.

An increase in biodiversity as we focus on planting indigenous trees. This habitat restoration will lead to the return of animals and other plants. As birds perch on these trees, they potentially carry seeds from other plant species and act as a stepping-stone for increased biodiversity.

The launch of even larger conservation projects. In the long run, we would love to see the reintroduction of primates to our watershed areas.



Your support will provide food for hungry families, restore habitats, increase biodiversity, and potentially bring back some incredible animals as farmers learn to live alongside primates.

One dollar will plant one tree. Partnering farmers are ready to plant 10,000 trees. Will you help them accomplish this goal? Visit our site to donate to the Burundi Indigenous Tree Project

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