Working Toward Peace Amidst Burundi’s Violence
Written by Plant With Purpose on May 14, 2015 in News & Events
When Plant With Purpose was exploring new country partnerships eight years ago, Burundi quickly rose to the top of the list based on need. Burundi is the hungriest country in the world, with 58 percent of the population suffering from chronic malnutrition. This malnutrition rate is the direct result of extreme environmental degradation, lack of access to land, and displacement and devastation resulting from more than 30 years of civil war. This war left over 300,000 dead and tens of thousands displaced within Burundi and in refugee camps in Tanzania, Rwanda, and Uganda.
Steps toward the presidential elections scheduled for June 26 have unleashed political violence in the capital city of Bujumbura. Nation-wide conflict is on the minds of everyone.
Plant With Purpose has diligently been watching the situation while in contact with our in-country staff. The program currently reaches more than 100,000 adults and children in five provinces, equipping small-scale farming families to improve crop production, increase income, and lift themselves out of poverty. By integrating reforestation efforts to restore productivity to degraded land, agricultural conditions are improving. During the first quarter of 2015, Plant With Purpose Burundi planted nearly 450,000 trees.
With the current political tensions, staff members are experiencing difficulty traveling to the office and even greater difficulty accessing rural communities where participating farmers live.
A dynamic part of Plant With Purpose’s program in Burundi has brought about reconciliation and peace building. Plant With Purpose’s former Country Director Lazare Sebitereko explains, “The most effective reconciliation happens when farmers work ‘shoulder to shoulder’ for the good of the whole community, rather than just sitting together to work through their problems ‘face to face’.” When farmers work together across ethnic divisions, they build trust and leave old hatreds behind.
Executive Director Scott Sabin reflects on the advancements that Plant With Purpose Burundi has seen in recent years. “We are so excited by the progress that partnering farmers are making and the reconciliation that is taking place as a result of farmer associations. It is miraculous to see what they have accomplished. We also know these accomplishments are very fragile. Please pray with us that these tiny shoots of hope will not be destroyed.”
In addition, Country Director Noe Nizigama asks, “Pray for peace and good resolutions with all parties involved. Pray also that there will be no fighting especially upcountry between members of different parties.”
To learn more about Plant With Purpose Burundi, please visit our Where We Work page.