Improving the livelihoods of extremely poor households

Country: 
Burundi
Region: 
Rugombo
Status: 
Ongoing
Donor(s): 
YOU Foundation-Education for Children in Need, Deutsche Postcode Lotterie, HOPE'87
Project Description: 

This projects’ aim is to improve the livelihoods of women in the community of Rugombo in the north-west of Burundi and reduce the impact of poverty on them by supporting their economic activities. The project also builds the human capital of these women, focusing on gender and business. Furthermore, coaching is provided for the women in order to help them address their life challenges, with a focus on child rearing, hygiene and access to health services. Mentoring is also provided in the field of basic business training, which helps the women set up their businesses efficiently, e.g. in retail or selling food at the markets, and to run them profitably. This includes knowledge about permits, paying taxes and duties as well as accounting.

To strengthen the social protection of the women, each woman was provided with social protection packages in the form of cash transfers to savings groups, which helps them increase the number and size of loans taken on their funds. This will enable the women entrepreneurs to expand their business and thus increase their regular income in order to more easily meet their basic needs, such as the cost of their children's education, access to sufficient food and housing. As access to health services is also an important issue for the beneficiaries, health insurance cards were distributed to the women and their family members in collaboration with an existing local health insurance structure in Rugombo community.

Through its activities, the project thus contributes to end poverty (SDG 1) in the rural area of Rugombo by ensuring social protection that helps poor and vulnerable people to reduce their poverty through unconditional cash transfers and skills development, which took them out of the group of people who have to live on less than $1.25 per day. By helping the beneficiaries to improve their living conditions and ensure they have access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food throughout the year, the project also helps to end hunger (SDG 2) in the project area.

Project Background: 

Burundi is a small landlocked country located in the Great Lakes region in Eastern Africa. It is one of the poorest countries in the world, ranking 185th out of 189 countries in the 2019 Human Development Index, and has the second lowest GDP worldwide. Out of the 11.7 million people, 80% are employed in the agricultural sector and more than 65% of the population lives in poverty. Burundi also has the highest hunger score worldwide, with more than 50% of the population living with chronical food insecurity. The analysis of humanitarian needs indicates that one in three Burundians is currently in need of urgent humanitarian assistance.

The country also faces major challenges and conflicts causing the displacement of the population both inside Burundi and outside of its borders. Social and political tensions around Burundi’s contested presidential elections in 2015 have had an adverse effect on the economic activity and food security and resulted in over 500,000 displaced people. Political instability continues to pose a challenge to ending hunger by 2030, as it has led to a nearly 50% decrease in foreign aid. To compensate for this loss of external resources, the government has strongly mobilised internal resources, but this has not been sufficient to counter the dire situation. The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated events as it interrupted an economic recovery that was already fragile.

In this context, access to financial institutions or loans is mostly hopeless for the poor population in Burundi, as in rural areas, the nearest banks, cooperative banks and microfinance institutions are far away and a minimum deposit is required for a savings account, which is far beyond the means of the rural poor. In response to the needs identified, HOPE’87-Burundi thus continues to mobilise activities together with other partners in order to alleviate the suffering of extremely poor communities, with a special focus on the empowerment of women in rural areas that are especially vulnerable to the effects of poverty.