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Overview

  • A landlocked State in Central Africa, Burundi is one of the most densely populated countries on the continent with 470 inhabitants per square kilometer. Its economy is heavily reliant on the agricultural sector, which, despite the paucity of arable land, employs 80% of the population. Poverty is mainly rural and overwhelmingly affects small farmers.

    Political Context

    Pierre Nkurunziza has been in power since 2005. Following a referendum, the country adopted a new constitution in June 2018 based on the 2000 Arusha Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Burundi. Among other things, it establishes a seven-year presidential term starting with the next general elections scheduled for May 2020. The outgoing president has announced that he will not be standing for re-election.

    The country also has a National Assembly and a Senate whose members will be elected for five years. Legislative and commune-level elections will be held on the same date, while Senate elections will be held in July 2020.

    Economic Overview

    • The economy is recovering slowly, with growth expected to reach 1.6% in 2018 compared to 0.5% in 2017, after two consecutive years of recession in 2015 (-3.9%) and 2016 (-0.6%).
    • A fragile recovery that remains below the 4.2% recorded from 2004 to 2014 and facing many challenges: a lack of budgetary resources to finance public investment, a persistent shortage of foreign exchange with falling international reserves, the vulnerability of the financial sector, the increase in fiscal and current deficits.
    • After rising to 16.1% in 2017, inflation fell sharply to -2.6% (deflation) in 2018. Deflation continued in 2019 and stood at -4.2% in August 2019. This is due to a good agricultural season that has lowered food prices. However, this persistent deflation may also reflect lower demand.
    • External accounts remain vulnerable, with a very sharp increase in the current account deficit, estimated at 14.3% of GDP in 2018 compared to 11.3% in 2017. This deterioration is linked to the widening trade deficit, combined with the decline in international aid transfers to NGOs.
    • Foreign exchange pressures have continued, with a sharper drop in foreign exchange reserves and negative impacts on imports. International reserves covered just 0.9 months of imports in June 2019. The parallel market premium remains high at 70% in July 2019. The banking sector’s soundness has improved with capitalization and liquidity ratios above regulatory standards and profitability indicators on the rise. However, bank portfolio quality remains a concern, with the level of non-performing loans reaching 9% in May 2019.

    Social Context and Development Challenges

    Most of the Burundian population lives in poverty, especially in rural areas. The level of food insecurity is almost twice as high as the average for sub-Saharan African countries, with about 1.77 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in 2019 according to the Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP), which is estimated at $106 million.

    Climatic hazards and the resurgence of epidemics often aggravate this situation.

    Moreover, agriculture, which is the main source of employment (nearly 80% of the population), does not generate enough income and contributes only 40% of GDP. Access to water and sanitation remains very low and less than 5% of the population has access to electricity (including 52.1% of urban households and 2% of rural households).

    The country has made progress in slowing population growth, with a fertility rate that declined from 6.4 to 5.5 children per woman on average between 2010 and 2017.

    Owing to its proximity to the Democratic Republic of  Congo, Burundi is also exposed to the Ebola epidemic that has been affecting the country since June 2018 and has taken measures to prevent and control the disease, with the support of the World Bank, by setting up screening and treatment centers near borders.

    Last Updated: Nov 20, 2019

  • World Bank Group Engagement in Burundi

    The World Bank has been supporting Burundi's development efforts since 1957.

    • Its engagement is based on the Country Partnership Framework (CPF) for Burundi for the period 2019 to 2023, which aims to boost economic growth in order to halve the poverty rate, by improving human capital (maternal and child health, education, employment, etc.) and promoting social inclusion.
    • It currently finances 10 national and four regional projects to the tune of  $713.45 million through grants from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank's fund for the poorest countries. These projects are involved in a number of different areas.
    • The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Bank's private sector subsidiary, also works to identify economic opportunities for private investors.

    Last Updated: Nov 20, 2019

  • Progress report on some of the projects financed by the World Bank:

    Agriculture and rural development

    Under the Agro-Pastoral Productivity and Markets Development Project (PRODEMA):

    • 22,842 farming households received support aimed at improving their performance;
    • 914 ha of marshland irrigation systems were  rehabilitated  and developed;
    • 81,175 km of trails were rehabilitated to facilitate access to marshland.

    Thanks to the  Coffee Sector Competitiveness Project:

    • 144,939 coffee farmers received agricultural equipment and inputs;
    • 6.5 million coffee plants were replanted and 13.9 million old coffee plants were cut back.

    The Great Lakes Regional Integrated Agricultural Development Project:

    • directly benefits 129,000 people (nearly 50% of whom are women) and indirectly benefits 645,000 people;
    • distributed agricultural inputs to 16,928 farmers (including 8,665 women) for maize and rice cultivation
    • supported the schooling of 3,110 children from the Batwa community;
    • supported efforts to  eradicate small ruminant plague (PPR) by vaccinating more than 5.9 million sheep and goats and assisting 4,137 households affected by the outbreak.

    Public Sector Management and Governance

    The Strengthening Institutional Capacity for Government Effectiveness Project (PRCIEG):

    • provides technical assistance to the Ministries of Finance and Mines and the tax authorities;
    • conducted a public expenditure review to assess the impact of macroeconomic imbalances on public sector spending, fiscal management, and the provision of public services in the health and education sectors.

    Environment

    The Sustainable Development of Coffee Growing Areas Project, funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the World Bank, has made it possible to:

    • define a protected area management plan;
    • launch awareness campaigns;
    • promote sustainable livelihoods;
    • limit erosion.

    Local development and employment

    The Local Development for Jobs Project (PDLE), which aims to promote job creation in the short and medium term, particularly in urban areas, has:

    • provided temporary employment for 145,890 people;
    • built six markets;
    • supported four municipalities in the preparation of their development plans.

    Human capital

    The Health System Support Project (KIRA), which aims to finance free health care for children under five and pregnant women, achieved the following:

    • the rate of births attended by skilled medical personnel in health facilities increased from 60% to 75% between 2010 and 2018;
    • the quality of care has improved in health centers (with the quality score increasing from 60% to 67% between 2010 and 2018) and in district hospitals (with an increase from 75% to 81%);
    • 701 health facilities, 644 health centers and 57 hospitals (public, private, and faith-based) received direct financial transfers.

    The Great Lakes Emergency Sexual and Gender-based Violence and Women's Health Project has made it possible to:

    • form 500 village (colline) networks and 74 commune-level networks to raise awareness of efforts to combat gender-based violence;
    • create 881 solidarity centers to receive women who are survivors or vulnerable;
    • develop an early warning system and a national gender database (BDGN).

    The Maternal Child Nutrition Enhancement Project in Rutana and Makamba Provinces has made it possible to:

    • train and raise awareness among 30,506 pregnant and lactating women with children aged 0-23 months and provide them with highly nutritious crop seeds such as fortified organic beans and sweet potatoes with orange flesh to combat chronic malnutrition;
    • identify and monitor on a monthly basis 88,263 children under age two in situation of food insecurity;
    • train 1,282 community health workers and Mamans Lumières in nutrition and food security issues;

    The East Africa Regional Public Health Laboratory Networking Project has made it possible to:

    • improve the quality of analyses, with 90% of laboratories awarded a 3-star rating;
    • increase the number of patients with a satisfaction rate of more than 80%;
    • build capacity and raise community awareness, including the establishment of the temporary Ebola Treatment Centre (CTE) and the establishment of a mobile laboratory.

    The Social Safety Net  Project "Merankabandi":

    • provides regular unconditional transfers to 250,040 beneficiaries from the poorest households in chronically malnourished areas to help them meet their needs;

    With the support of other partners, such as WFP, UNICEF, Columbia University, the Centre international d'études pédagogiques de Paris, the Burundi Early Grade Learning Project has made it possible to:

    • provide a hot meal for 70,000 children in 97 school meal programs across the country;
    • train 14,866 teachers and educational managers from more than 4,000 basic schools;
    • distribute a school kit to 386,000 students in the six most vulnerable provinces;

    Last Updated: Nov 20, 2019

  • In order to harmonize development support in the country, the World Bank collaborates with the International Monetary Fund, the various United Nations agencies, the European Union, and the African Development Bank.

    It also works with many national and international non-governmental organizations and other development actors to design and support investment programs in health (CORDAID, PATHFINDER, HEALTHNET TPO, World Vision), agriculture (IITA, IRRI, ILRI), rural development (TWITEZIMBERE, COPED), social protection, and job creation (CARITAS Belgium and Burundi, ABUTIP).

    Last Updated: Nov 20, 2019

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LENDING

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

*Amounts include IBRD and IDA commitments


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Additional Resources

Country Office Contacts

Main Office Contact
3 Avenue de l'Aviation
Bujumbura
Burundi
+257-22-20-6200
For general information and inquiries
Innocent Nsabimana
External Affairs Associate
+257-79-74-4944
+257-22-20-6240
insabimana@worldbank.org
For project-related issues and complaints
burundialert@worldbank.org