Burundi: UNICEF Humanitarian Appeal for Children and Women: Jan-Dec 2000



  • Six-year civil war - 800,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) and 300,000 Burundian refugees, mainly in Tanzania
  • Insecurity pervasive throughout country - two UN staff killed October 1999, peace process has made slow progress
  • Two-year economic embargo accentuating widespread poverty and deterioration of basic services
  • Food production has decreased by about 20 per cent; global malnutrition rates as high as 15 per cent
  • 450,000 IDPs reliant on food aid
  • Under-five mortality rates increasing (108/1,000 in 1992 to 210/1,000 in 1998).
  • Maternal mortality rates increasing (600/100,000 in 1992 to 800/100,000 in 1998)
  • Immunization coverage rates falling
  • Primary school enrolment rates falling (72 per cent in 1993 to 52 per cent in 1999).
  • An estimated 160,000 AIDS orphans already identified; large number of child-headed households
  • Up to 3,000 street children and 4,500 unaccompanied children in Bujumbura alone


  • Reduce mortality and morbidity rates due to vaccine-preventable and other infectious diseases (diarrhoeal diseases, acute respiratory infections);
  • Increase awareness of preventive strategies for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and particularly HIV/AIDS, among health workers, displaced people and the population in general;
  • Ensure provision of nutritional rehabilitation and referral services for estimated 30,000 malnourished people;
  • Improve access to potable water, safer sanitation and hygiene to 100,000 displaced people and urban and peri-urban vulnerable groups;
  • Improve opportunities to access educational activities for primary school children;
  • Increase the capacity of child-care institutions to ensure the protection of child rights.

UNICEF has a long-term presence, two field offices and an ongoing Country Programme in Burundi. As the lead agency in nutrition, UNICEF facilitates the activities of international humanitarian organizations - World Food Programme (WFP) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) - active in the nutrition sector. Protocols for both supplementary and therapeutic feeding activities, as well as methodologies for nutrition surveys, have been standardized. UNICEF supplies much of the materials, technical advice, training, monitoring and coordination support to the Ministry of Health (MoH) and NGOs to carry out immunization programmes.


Health: Expanded Programme of Immunization (EPI), essential drugs, training and equipment
HIV/AIDS: Information, Education and Communication (IEC) training
Nutrition: Surveillance, therapeutic food and equipment
Water and Sanitation: Rehabilitate water systems, hygiene
Education: Supply didactic materials, teacher training
Children in distress (1,450,000)
Child Rights and Protection (575,000)


The overall number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Burundi has remained similar during the past year at 800,000, although their location has shifted. More than half a million people continue to live in over 300 IDP sites. Insecurity has increased, particularly in and around Bujumbura, during the last year, and over 250,000 people were forced to move to rural areas on the outskirts of the capital. Security remains the single biggest constraint for humanitarian agencies. As of November 1999, all agencies have suspended operations because of the killing of two UN staff, one the UNICEF Representative in Burundi. Urgent humanitarian actions will begin as soon as more effective security measures are assured.

Countrywide, social indicators reveal a desperate situation, with decreasing vaccination coverage and school attendance and increasing child and maternal mortality; the areas of conflict are considerably worse off than the rest of the country. Preventable diseases often go untreated due to the destruction of approximately one third of the rural health centres, a lack of essential drugs, the absence of qualified personnel at the remaining health centres and an inability to pay for care, even if accessible. Despite the suspension of the economic embargo in January 1999, the economy has shown little sign of improvement and funds for basic services remain inadequate. The national currency has been devalued and is less than half its value at the beginning of the year. The political situation in-country continues to experience difficulties, despite ongoing internal and external peace initiatives. The strategy therefore remains much the same as for 1999, namely, continuing to respond to urgent humanitarian needs of children and women.

UNICEF has a one-year Country Programme for 2000 budgeted at $6.6 million; thereafter, the Country Programme cycle will be in line with other UN Agencies. A major part of the Country Programme resources will be used to address the huge emergency needs in-country, as UNICEF has done in previous years, especially direct general resources from UNICEF.


UNICEF received more than half of funding requirements for the 1999 appeal (58 per cent). Four million dollars were provided from UNICEF globally assessed contributions for the Burundi appeal in 1999 to be able to support life-saving assistance to the most vulnerable groups of Burundian children.

Coordination improved during 1999 with the establishment of provincial coordination structures and the continuation of sectoral committees made up of NGOs, government line Ministries and UN Agencies. Collaborating with a wide variety of partners including NGOs, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the following actions were undertaken by mid-year:

  • Data from nutritional surveys and nutritional feeding centres were analysed, published and used to improve the allocation of resources and target the most vulnerable beneficiaries. Nutritional centres were supported through signed agreements with 13 international NGOs. A Memorandum of Understanding signed with the WFP paved the way for an allocation of more than 5,000 metric tons of food to NGO-operated supplementary feeding programmes;
  • 30,000 children received supplementary feeding and 2,000 children received therapeutic feeding (monthly average);
  • Efforts were initiated to bring Burundian law into conformity with the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), through support for the creation of eight provincial-level committees charged with monitoring and promoting children's rights; conducted a survey of children in prison;
  • 65,000 people provided with access to potable water and 68,000 with improved sanitation;
  • 25,000 vulnerable children assisted through existing institutions;
  • 27,000 children received basic educational supplies;
  • 7,500 children received emergency non-food kits;
  • 80,000 children vaccinated against major childhood diseases in the worst-affected provinces;
  • 3.1 million children vaccinated against polio through National Immunization Days (NIDs) (91 per cent theoretical coverage rate).


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