Burundi faces significant economic, political and development problems. Its population is very poor and faces great challenges in the domains of health, food security, education, and human rights. 90 per cent of Burundians rely on small-scale agriculture for a living. Coupled with a burgeoning population, estimated at 10.5 million people (at 206.1 persons per km², Burundi has the second-largest population density in Sub-Saharan Africa), arable land is increasingly scarce, and the country does not produce enough food to sustain itself. The most basic of needs of many, particularly the most vulnerable – children under age 5, pregnant women, refugees, returnees and internally displaced people – are not being met. While there has been progress on the reintegration of refugees and IDPs, longer term solutions for land tenure issues and viable community development are still required. More sustained support is needed to address root causes and humanitarian consequences. Linkages between residual humanitarian programmes and development objectives require sustained support.
Burundi is undergoing a transition from a humanitarian to a development framework, and most of the remaining humanitarian organizations (ECHO, ICRC, NRC, MSF, etc.) will continue to scale down or phase out unless the situation dictates otherwise. OCHA formally closed its office in June 2010. Humanitarian partners, under the leadership of the Resident Coordinator, have maintained humanitarian coordination structures including clusters and an inter-cluster forum. For now, these structures exist in parallel to developmental coordination structures that by-and-large cover the same topics. Part of OCHA’s exit strategy was to support the Government’s civil protection unit to coordinate emergency preparedness and response through its “Plateforme Nationale de Gestion des Catastrophes” headed by the Civil Protection Unit. UNICEF and UNDP also support the national platform, including its provincial and communal decentralization. The platform is not yet self-sustaining, requiring the support of partners. However, some humanitarian partners have had issues cooperating with this entity as it is also a sub-service of the national police force, thereby necessitating a separate humanitarian platform. Other coordination priorities include continued support to inter-cluster coordination and identification of key cross-cutting residual humanitarian issues (including coordination of joint assessment missions in case of new emergencies) and sharing regular common situational analysis with OCHA in South Kivu Province of neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The UN in Burundi
UNDP is at the centre of initiatives to reduce poverty within the UN, and chairs the UN Group for Development, bringing together UN agencies playing a key role in this area. The UNDP Resident Representative coordinates all UN develop-oriented activities in country. As such, one of the most important tasks is to ensure the strategic integration of development initiatives at the national level, and to ensure more efficient use of resources of the UN and international aid. With regard to fundraising, UNDP provides support through a coordination group of partners (including donors) that it co-chairs with the Government. In 2007, UNDP underwent a reorganization intended to enable it to be more involved in consolidation of peace with the establishment of the UN Integrated Office in Burundi (BINUB) which deals mainly with good governance, security sector reform, justice, human rights, gender and AIDS. BINUB is mandated by the UN General Assembly to continue to assist the Government of Burundi in consolidating peace by strengthening national capacities to address the root causes of conflict.