Burundi

Burundi: Poverty strategy to focus on food production

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BUJUMBURA, 24 May 2007 (IRIN) - Burundi is to boost food production, private sector growth, education, health and energy availability as part of a four-year poverty reduction strategy, President Pierre Nkurunziza announced.

Launching a US$1.320 billion appeal to donors to fund the 2007-2010 poverty reduction strategy paper (PRSP) on 24 May, Nkurunziza said his government's plans would boost development in a country that had only recently emerged from conflict.

The donor meeting being held in the capital, Bujumbura, he added, marked its transition from a state of emergency assistance to development.

Given the level of destruction of social infrastructure during the years of war, the massive return of refugees, socio-economic reintegration of demobilised combatants and land pressures, Burundi required huge financial resources to implement its reconstruction programmes.

Of the amount requested, $785 million had been promised and programmed, Nkurunziza added. The government was therefore requesting an additional $534.7 million.

The donors, however, urged the Burundian government to promote human rights and reform its judicial system, noting that Burundi had made some gains after the civil war and therefore deserved support for its reconstruction programme.

The United Nations representative to Burundi, Youssef Mahmoud, called for more efforts to implement reforms, including security and the judiciary, good governance, the promotion of human rights and the improvement of the population's living conditions.

"The judicial system must be an example of integrity, fairness, independence and professionalism," Mahmoud said.

The government was also urged to conclude a peace accord with the Forces national de libération rebel group. Bert Koenders, the Netherlands minister of cooperation and development, said the international community expected the peace process to be concluded because "there is no economic development without peace".

Nkurunziza committed the government to reinforce peace and security, to respect democratic principles and human rights, and speed up negotiations with the UN to set up the truth and reconciliation commission.

jb/mw

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