Country Overview

Burundi is a small landlocked country with a total area of 27,830 square kilometers. Densely populated, it has a population of approximately 10.6 million inhabitants. The economy is dominated by subsistence agriculture, which employs 90% of the population, though cultivable land is extremely scarce. More than a decade of conflict has devastated much of the country’s physical, social and human capital however substantial improvements have occurred over the past decade, thanks to a relatively well performing demobilization program. The army has largely retreated back to its barracks, roadblocks and checkpoints have been disassembled, and night curfews were lifted. Security and legal entities are under the government’s control and the army is now seen as one of the main stabilizing institutions. A reform of the police is also underway, with the aim of making it more professional, in order to restore the people's trust in the institution. Economic reforms and institution building are also ongoing.

Political Context

The preparations for next year’s elections have begun, with several agreements reached recently amongst key stakeholders. However, there are concerns about the possibility of President Nkurunziza running for a third term. The international community continues to call for a more fair and inclusive process and has expressed concern regarding the narrowing space for opposition parties to freely carry out their activities.  In this context, a roundtable fostering an open and frank dialogue on the politico-economic developments since the October 2012 Geneva conference took place in Bujumbura on December 11and 12, 2014.

Social Context

Burundi is enjoying its first decade of moderate economic growth however poverty remains widespread. The share of the population deprived of basic food needs declined by 6 percentage points between 2006 and 2012 but remains high at 60%. Inequalities between the capital, Bujumbura, and the rest of the country, remain high but are decreasing despite rapid economic growth in urban areas. In rural areas, 61.5% of the population cannot meet their basic needs in terms of calorie intake, versus 41% in Bujumbura. Burundi’s ranking on the UNDP’s Human Development Index increased by 2.5% per year between 2005 and 2013 as education and health outcomes have significantly improved over the period yet the country still ranks low at 180th out of 187 countries in 2013. Per capita gross national income more than doubled between 2005 ($130) and 2013 ($280).

Economic Overview          

Burundi is making the transition from a post-conflict to a stable and growing economy. After significant improvements to consolidate peace and security, the country’s development program is shifting gradually towards modernizing public finance, strengthening basic social services, and upgrading economic infrastructure and institutions, particularly in the energy, mining, and agricultural sector, with an increasing participation of the private sector. The goal now is to grow a more stable, competitive and diversified economy with enhanced opportunities for employment and improved standards of living.

Over the last decade, economic growth in Burundi has oscillated between 4 and 5%. Economic growth is expected to accelerate slightly to 4.8% in 2014 (up from 4.5% in 2013) boosted by the recovery in the coffee sector and momentum in the construction and service sectors. Inflation continues to decline reaching 3.5% in October 2014, down from 24% in March 2012, reflecting a prudent monetary policy helped by a recent decrease in the prices of imported goods, including oil.

Burundi’s economy is handicapped by two main weaknesses: limited fiscal space and narrow export base making both fiscal and external positions very vulnerable.

The domestic and external macroeconomic environment has improved. Increase in coffee prices (up by 45% in the past 12 months) have given a boost to the economy. The external balance is also projected to improve. The declining trend in consumer prices is continuing and the inflation rate fell below 3.5% as of May 2014. The exchange rate has stabilized at around 1,550 BiF per dollar and the level of foreign reserves stood at around 4 months of imports at the end May 2014.

However, concerns remain on the fiscal front. Revenue mobilization weakened in the first half of 2014 (7.6% below target), partly as a result of the effort to streamline tax payments (in January 2014, the government abolished the 4% advance for imported products and suppressed the 1% minimum tax on enterprises). While these measures are expected to enhance private sector activities, they have had a short-term fiscal cost which has only been partially compensated by revenue earned from the award of a new telecommunication license (which generated approximately 0.3% of GDP in additional revenue). As a result, the government has strictly controlled public spending. The overall execution rate was only 22.3% by the end of April 2014.

Last Updated: Jan 12, 2015

World Bank Group Engagement in Burundi

Building on Burundi’s progress over the last decade, the Country Assistance Strategy (CAS) for the FY13-16 provides the framework for the World Bank Group to support Burundi’s development as an increasingly stable, competitive, and diversified economy with enhanced employment and business opportunities.

The CAS focuses on two strategic objectives: first, improving competitiveness by establishing and enabling an environment for inclusive growth and poverty reduction; and second, increasing resilience by consolidating social stability. Strengthening governance is the foundation of the proposed CAS, as it is expected to contribute to both strategic objectives.

The CAS aligns with the second Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP II, 2012-2015) and seeks to help Burundi lay a foundation for a faster and more inclusive growth that emphasizes reducing poverty and mitigating the risk of renewed instability by building trust between the state and its citizens.

Due to its weak fiscal space and high risk of debt distress, Burundi has benefited since 2000 from International Development Association (IDA) grants. Starting with a series of emergency operations, IDA supported the stabilization of the economy and the launch of the national reform program. IDA has now moved to assisting the country’s development program through a series of budget support and investment operations, often leveraging additional funds from other development partners.

As of September 2014, IDA’s portfolio in Burundi amounts to about $382 million in grants. About 7% of this financial support has been provided through budget support operations linked to economic governance reforms. Projects in the pipeline amount to more than $100 million in grants and aim at strengthening emergency infrastructure, budget support, the coffee sector, and institutional capacity building in service delivery.

The mid-term assessment of the CAS is being carried out, and the Progress Report is expected to be submitted to the Board in the first quarter of 2015. 

Last Updated: Jan 12, 2015

An analysis of the CAS results framework shows that 76% of the outcome indicators have been achieved or are on track. The 2012 Household Survey has demonstrated a significant improvement in key social indicators. For example, the percentage of women assisted during delivery has increased from 64.4%  in 2009 to 78.4%  in 2012, and the number of visits that a child under five makes to a health provider has also improved from 1.68 in 2009 to 2.2 in 2012; both exceeding the target set for August 2014 under the under the Health Sector Development Support Project.  Furthermore, utilization of contraceptives by couples of reproductive age has increased from 19.8% in 2012 to 30.8% in 2013, above the target of 22% at the end of 2014.

Under the Road Sector Development Project, more than 108 kilometers of road networks have been rehabilitated and maintained at end 2013 compared to 27 kilometers in 2012, far above the target of 44 kilometers set in the CAS by the end of 2014.

Thanks to the Agro-Pastoral Productivity and Markets Development Project, agriculture yields have significantly improved resulting in increases in the production of irrigated rice, cassava, and milk. Irrigated rice increased from 4.0 tons per hectare in 2008 to nearly 5.0 tons per hectare in 2012, cassava yields rose from 10 tons per hectare in 2008 to 12 tons per hectare in 2012, and milk increased from 360 liters per year in 2010 to 1,134 liters per year in 2012, above the project target of 950 liters per year.

Last Updated: Jan 12, 2015

In Burundi, government and development partners are taking steps to improve donor harmonization. The International Development Association (IDA) and the African Development Bank (AfDB) have carried out joint stakeholder consultations in Burundi to prepare their respective current country strategies. In addition, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Belgian Technical Cooperation, and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) collaborate to ensure that their respective work programs in agriculture complement each other.

Under the CAS, IDA seeks to improve aid effectiveness and coordination by building the capacity of Burundi’s aid coordination unit. In addition, IDA and the UK’s Department for International Development are helping the government use, when feasible, sector-wide approaches and monitor progress toward the partnership commitments of the Paris Declaration. The Bank is actively participated in the Partners’ Conference held in Geneva in October 2012 where the Government, donor partners, and stakeholders jointly agreed on important strategic priorities for Burundi, and pledged significant financial resources. The Bank also participated in sectoral conferences held in Bujumbura in October 2013. Going forward, at the national level, strong donor and Government coordination on economic reform issues in Burundi will be important—especially following the elections.

The Bank works closely with AfDB, the International Monetary Fund, and the European Commission to improve public finance management. In partnership with the Dutch and Norwegian governments, IDA provided direct support to the budget in recent years. IDA also collaborates closely with the United Nations agencies such as the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the World Health Organization (WHO) to improve the provision of water, sanitation, health, and education to the poor.

In partnership with UNDP, the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF), and other development partners, IDA has contributed to the human development capacity of Burundians for planning development programs, monitoring progress, and evaluating results. In recent years, IDA forged partnerships with civil society groups through the “Conseil national de lutte contre le sida” (National Council for the Fight Against AIDS/HIV) to support the fight against HIV/AIDS. Wide consultations are also undertaken regularly in order to improve the quality of policymaking, strengthen national ownership of key reforms, and promote accountability.

On regional integration, IDA collaborates with the East Africa Community, AfDB and TradeMark East Africa in providing knowledge and building institutional capacities as well as in public works design and financing.

Last Updated: Jan 12, 2015


Burundi: Commitments by Fiscal Year (in millions of dollars)*

*Amounts include IBRD and IDA commitments