IOM Burundi launches new project addressing long-term needs of returnees

News and Press Release
Originally published
A returnee woman benefitted of shelter repair support in Cankuzo province bordering the United Republic of Tanzania. © IOM 2019, Triffin Ntore


Bujumbura, September 2021 – In Burundi, working the land represents the primary source of income and livelihoods generation for citizens. Owning land provides an individual and their family with both stability and a sense of belonging within their community, making access to land an essential factor for the survival of a large majority of the population. Land access, therefore, is a critical issue to consider in the country’s humanitarian context, and, more specifically, in the case of assistance to returnees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).

In 2021, the country has increasingly been facing challenges linked to the high number of returnees arriving throughout the year, and that continue to arrive. Indeed, following the signing of tripartite agreements between the governments of Burundi, the United Republic of Tanzania and the Republic of Rwanda, an estimated 142,000 Burundians are expected to return this year, with approximately 40,000 expected from Rwanda alone – a recently observed trend.

Considering the ramifications that such high levels of return pose, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is collaborating closely with the Government of Burundi to implement a new project that will address challenges. Entitled “Strengthening reintegration capacity for Burundian returnees through Housing, Land, Property (HLP), Shelter, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), and Protection” the project is funded by the United States Bureau of Population Refugees and Migration (PRM).

During its one-year timeframe, the project aims to contribute to already existing national efforts to strengthen the reintegration capacity for Burundian returnees and displaced populations within their communities. It will build upon a former PRM-funded project with similar goals entitled “Enhancing Immediate Reintegration Capacity for Burundian Returnees through HLP, Shelter and WASH in Burundi”, which was implemented from May 2020 to July 2021 with encouraging results. Thus, as IOM moves to compliment this previous project it will take advantage of both the momentum of ongoing discussions with the Government of Burundi and of the progress that has been achieved so far.

“Throughout the last PRM funded-project, significant achievements were recorded” outlines Vijaya Souri, IOM Burundi’s Chief of Mission. “Amongst other achievements, 1,024 persons were sensitized on HLP issues based on 12 community dialogues hosted in 12 communes of Muyinga, Ruyigi and Cankuzo provinces. In addition to that, 1,599 households received land certificates. This was made possible thanks to trainings on the legal framework and plot mapping techniques done for communal land services to strengthen their operational and institutional capacities”.

In addition to the trainings, other key activities were implemented by IOM, including logistics support to national and communal land services, the provision of shelter repair kits, Non-Food Item (NFI) and hygiene kits and ecological latrines destined for returnees and host community members, among other activities.

With this new project, IOM and the Government of Burundi will continue with their joints efforts to improve upon access to land and housing for displaced/host communities; strengthen capacity building among local authorities in HLP; improve the capacity of host communities to absorb returnees through the provision of WASH and shelter facilities; deliver direct assistance and services to meet land accessrelated protection needs and risks experienced by returnees; and provide returnees’ with mental health and psychosocial support, as well as social cohesion activities.

In terms of coverage, 12 additional communes (5 in Ruyigi province and 7 in Kirundo province) will be added to the 12 communes already covered (Muyinga, Cankuzo and Ruyigi provinces).

The new project will also take into consideration the recommendations of experts and stakeholders proposed during the national workshop on access to land and tenure security organized in March of 2021.

“We will continue working with the Government of Burundi to tackle land-related issues and other challenges, to ensure returnees are integrated in their community of return” adds Vijaya Souri.

Triffin Ntore, IOM Burundi, tntore@iom.int, Tel +257 75 150 145
Amaury Falt-Brown, IOM Burundi, afalt@iom.int Tel +257 68 337 033

IOM Burundi’s press releases are available on www.reliefweb.int