A Means of Income in Burundi

Burundi program

Two Burundian women, who helped dig anti-erosion berms as part of CRS’ cash-for-work program, celebrate the program that pays thousands of workers for labor and income that allows them to buy food. Photo by Alexiane Lalyman/CRS

In the Bubanza province of Burundi, two women rejoiced.

Irregular rainfall, soil erosion, disease and poor farming techniques have long plagued Burundi’s crops and prospects of food security. After enduring more than a decade of civil war, residents, especially returnees, needed a means of income as well as food to feed their families. But with 95 percent of the population being dependent on agriculture, residents in the rural countryside as well as the urban centers were seeing increased malnutrition and diminished livelihoods.

For the last three years, Catholic Relief Services has provided cash-for-work opportunities for thousands of Burundi families. In 2008 alone, approximately 16,000 families or 80,000 residents participated in the program, which pays residents to work on soil erosion control projects.

The work includes planting trees and digging anti-erosion berms, like the one shown here. On a recent visit to this project site in the Bubanza province, workers broke out in song and dance to celebrate the program. The program was especially helpful during the onset of the recent global food crisis, that sent the price of basic commodities skyrocketing.

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