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Acting quickly in Burundi helps a community to strengthen food security


Distribution of fertilizer in Ngozi province. 

Photo: Ange Dany Gakunzi / World Bank

Burundi faced severe food security challenges due to climatic shocks. The World Bank activated the CERC under the IDA-supported “Merankabandi” project, reallocating funds to address emergencies. This provided cash transfers to over 50,000 families and essential agricultural supplies. The World Bank, in collaboration with the Government of Burundi, WFP, and FAO, ensured effective relief and agricultural training, helping build a more food-secure future for Burundi.

For the past two years, Burundi has faced a serious food security challenge. A series of climatic shocks, including water deficits, floods, and landslides, devastated crops and threatened the well-being of families across the country.

But Burundi fought back with a powerful plan, activating the CERC (Contingent Emergency Response Component) under the World Bank IDA-supported Burundi Cash for Jobs Project, known locally as “Merankabandi”. The activation of the CERC component allowed the project to rapidly reallocate funds from ongoing operations to cover emergencies and immediate needs, in this case bolstering food security and nutrition for the most vulnerable households in the six provinces hit hardest by the crisis.

Immediate relief, through direct cash transfers, has helped over 50,000 families purchase essential food and supplies during this difficult time.

Léoncie Kubwimana, from the indigenous Batwa community, shared her experience. "This money was a lifeline for my family. It allowed us to buy food and other things we desperately needed.

The project also strategically distributed essential agricultural supplies, providing a minimum of 15kg of bean seeds and 62.5kg of fertilizer per household. The distributed seeds were carefully chosen and nurtured in special community plant nurseries. These nurseries became symbols of hope, where people came together to grow a brighter future.

Bosco Nyandwi, a farmer from Ngozi province, said "The rain last year destroyed my seeds. These new ones will refill my empty storage and get me back on my feet."

The CERC's success was a partnership effort. The Government of Burundi partnered with experts from the World Food Program (WFP), who are skilled in managing cash transfers, and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), with their deep knowledge of farming techniques.

The collaboration between the World Bank and United Nations agencies created an effective recovery team. The WFP ensured smooth cash distribution, while the FAO provided crucial training on best practices. This knowledge empowered farmers to maximize their harvests, manage resources wisely, and be better prepared for future challenges.

As the Governor of Ngozi province stated, “This was a true team effort. The government, partners, and communities all worked together to tackle climate change and help those most affected in just a few months.

Burundi’s CERC story is one of hope and resilience. It shows the power of a community coming together and being able to take action quickly, with the right resources and knowledge. By taking proactive steps, Burundi isn't just surviving – it's building a more food-secure future.


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