Burundi is a small, landlocked country (27,830 km²), one of the five poorest countries in the world. It is the second most densely populated country in Africa with about 470 inhabitants/km², and a population of about 11.2 million in all. With close to 72.9% of its population live below the poverty line, Burundi ranks 184th out of 188 countries on the Human Development Index. Its economy is heavily reliant on the agricultural sector, which employs 80% of the population, despite the extreme paucity of arable land. Poverty overwhelmingly affects small rural farmers.
Burundi’s history as an independent country has been characterized by political instability and persistent violence, although since the Arusha Peace Agreement, signed by rival political groups from 2000 onward, restored Burundi has enjoyed relative stability, paving the way for economic recovery. The reelection of President Pierre Nkurunziza in 2015, however, triggered a political crisis that claimed hundreds of lives. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has registered almost 275,000 Burundian refugees and asylum seekers in other countries since. In March 2018, UNHCR and Burundi’s Ministry of Interior and UNHCR reported a slight trend in reverse, with over 20,000 Burundian refugees returned homing since September 2017.
The years 2017 and 2018 have seen the Government of Burundi asserting its authority, opting to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC) from October 27, 2017. The ruling party, the National Council for the Defense of
Most Burundians, especially those living in rural areas, remain afflicted by poverty. At nearly double the Sub-Sahara Africa average, the level of food insecurity is alarming: Burundi ranks last on food insecurity, according to the Global Hunger Index. About 1.76 million people are food insecure, and more than half (6 in 10) of children are stunted (Consumer Price Index, March 2017)—the highest globally. Although agriculture employs around 80% of the population, the sector contributes only about 40% to GDP. There is very limited access to water and sanitation, and less than 5% of the population has electricity (World Bank, 2016). The fertility rate has, however, decreased from 6.4 to 5.5 children per woman on average between 2010 and 2017.
Last Updated: Jun 01, 2018