Activities and Updates
Repatriation of Burundian refugees
Over the reporting week, very few Burundian refugees returned to their country of origin. UNHCR registered 64 spontaneous returnees from Tanzania of whom 4 arrived from Katumba. An additional 43 persons, who arrived from Kigoma, were assisted up to their arrival in Mabanda.
Update on Burundians expelled from Tanzania:
During the week under review the Government project for the reintegration of war-affected persons (PARESI) registered 381 persons (205 families) expelled from Tanzania: 327 at the entry point of Kobero (Muyinga) and 54 in Mishiha (Cankuzo). Since January 2007, PARESI has recorded 3,188 expelled persons (1,712 families).
Update on food aid distribution
Over the reporting week, WFP distributed 1,394 MT of food assistance to 300,648 vulnerable persons through its various programmes: feeding centers, food for work/food for training, assistance to refugees, HIV/AIDS affected persons and targeted distributions.
In celebration of the Day of the African Child, two round tables were organized, one in Bujumbura Mairie and one in Gitega, under the theme "Problématique de spoliation de l'héritage des orphelins" (the question of orphans' lost heritage) on June 14 and 16 respectively. Support was provided by the CRS consortium and CARE Burundi through the Nzokira programme. Three hundred persons from the public and private sectors participated in these very fruitful round tables. The conference in Gitega was chaired by the President of the Senate, the Honorable Gervais Rufyikiri; while the Secretary-General of the Bujumbura city council presided over the ceremony in Bujumbura Mairie. During these occasions, some orphans testified of their ordeal. Two hundred and thirty-seven lawsuits concerning 687 Orphans and Other Vulnerable Children (OVCs) were reported by the Protection Committee on the Rights of the Child. Of this number, 87, 5% cases of lost heritage involved close family members; while 86.9% related to confiscated land and buildings according to various reports provided by members of the above mentioned committee. Faced with this situation, recommendations and commitments were made: the city council promised to monitor the documented cases of all orphans who gave testimonies; and a lawyer committed himself to defend all cases involving violation of the rights of orphans free of charge. The President of the Senate recommended that administrators should not conclude any sales of properties without first carrying out thorough investigations to prevent the illicit sale of properties belonging to orphans.
On Friday June 15 2007, HealthNet-Transcultural Psychosocial Organization (HN-TPO Burundi) officially opened a counseling office in the commune of Kabezi within the framework of the VOT project (assistance to victims of torture and sexual violence). To mark this occasion, a football game was organized between the communes of Kabezi and Mutimbuzi as well as traditional dances under the theme "fight against torture and sexual violence". Sensitization messages were diffused through the distribution of t-shirts carrying slogans relating to the fight against torture and sexual violence.
On Saturday June 16 2007 under the Child Thematic Project (CTP), HealthNet-TPO celebrated the Day of the African Child in province Bubanza commune of Mpanda. The main objective of this celebration was to sensitize populations on problems pertaining to children, particularly the issue of mass hysteria which affected the commune of Mpanda a few weeks ago (Those most affected were girls who screamed and shook compulsively in classrooms). Competitions and traditional dances marked this Day in Mpanda. The event was attended by several personalities in the province including the Governor. At the end of the ceremony, the CTP project donated humanitarian assistance to 100 most vulnerable children.
Agriculture / Food Security
In close collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry, FAO and WFP have organized a joint evaluation mission on the season 2007B crop harvest and food security in the country. This mission is currently being carried out (June 11 to 22, 2007) and will cover the following 16 provinces: Gitega, Karuzi, Makamba, Rutana, Muramvya, Bujumbura, Ngozi, Kayanza, Kirundo, Muyinga, Mwaro, Bururi, Bubanza, Cibitoke, Ruyigi and Cankuzo. Humanitarian partners, including UNICEF and OCHA, are participating in the mission.
- Evaluate perspectives of season 2007B harvests and estimate food production in households;
- Assess the preliminary food situation of season 2007B with regards to the level of harvests and availability of food;
- Forecast food production from season 2007C to 2008A;
- Analyze the question of nutrition and its trends;
- Determine vulnerable zones and groups of populations.
The evaluation aims to examine both quantitative and qualitative information. Questionnaires will be used during meetings with administrative/communal authorities and local populations. At least two communes will be visited in each targeted province. A final report will be produced at the end of the mission by July 11 2007. (See Annex 1 for further details)
Annex 1: Human Interest Story
Last week, OCHA participated in the mission to Gitega and Karuzi where we met with 65 year old Tharcisse Ndabemeye, a married father of 6 children. Tharcisse lives in the province of Karuzi, commune of Gitaramuka and precisely in the colline of Gahashi.
Prior to meeting this family, the mission met with administrative/communal authorities in Karuzi to enquire about the overall level of food production and prospects from season 2007C until 2008A.
A meeting with the Governor of Karuzi revealed that the overall food production in the province for season 2007B is slightly better than that of season 2006B. He further explained
that there has been a considerable reduction in the rate of farm thefts. Despite this marginal improvement, he stressed on the fact that a more superior agricultural output was hindered by the late distribution of seeds to beneficiaries. As a result of torrential rains which ravaged crops at the end of 2006, most populations did not have sufficient stock to meet their needs throughout planting season 2007B. Consequently, 30-40% of farms were not cultivated in the province.
Food crops which are currently being harvested in Karuzi mostly consist of: beans, banana and sweet potatoes. Although they are harvested in large quantities, the Governor believes that there will be insufficient stock to last through season 2007C and 2008A. Populations have to be sensitized on the need to rationalize consumption and ensure that next season's planting seeds are kept in reserve. Harvest is however poor for some food stuff such as rice and cassava. The former was affected by soil erosions while the cassava mosaic disease affected most tubers and reduced production. Generally, coffee did not do well this season in Karuzi.
During our interview with Tharcisse, he revealed that 'my harvest was very poor because I did not receive seeds and had insufficient money to purchase them from the market'. He explained that 'last year I made money out of selling coffee but this year my coffee did not do well'. This year, his main source of income is obtained through the sale of bananas. Moreover, since 'I am an old man I do not really have energy to work long hours on farms so one of my sons who migrated to another province, frequently sends us money'. In Karuzi, it was noted that some people moved to the province of Makamba where manual labour is in high demand and wages are better. An analysis of Tharcisse's income from January until June 2007 revealed that he gained 5,000 FBu from the sale of bananas, his son sent him 3,000 FBu and a friend paid back a 10,000 FBu loan. Of his 18,000FBu disposal cash, Tharcisse spent 42% on food items, 37% on non-food items, 11% on planting materials and 10% on health. The family can only afford to have one meal per day; however, two children who attend school benefit from school canteens. Due to limited resources, Tharcisse will clearly be unable to afford seeds for the next planting season. When asked how he will survive through seasons 2007C and 2008A, he stated that 'I have planted sweet potatoes in the marshlands and cassava which should be ready for harvest from September'. Most households in Karuzi consume more of their personal harvest and buy less food from local markets. One of the main objectives and challenges of this evaluation is to determine the level of food security and to identify vulnerable families.
In order to boost household incomes, the Governor of Karuzi recommends that humanitarian organisations should purchase locally grown products such as seeds for distribution. In the short run, whilst populations continue to benefit from various programmes including: food for work, cash for work, food for seeds, seeds distribution and seeds fairs; food shortage in Burundi remains a structural problem which needs a more sustainable solution. More assistance focusing on seeds multiplication and income generating activities should be envisaged.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.