In an end of year radio broadcast, the Government announced its austerity budget for 2016, which forecasts significant cuts to the health, education and social affairs sector budgets, suggesting increasing difficulties in providing basic social services for children and women.
The number of children admitted for severe acute malnutrition in Bujumbura doubled between October and December 2015. UNICEF continues to monitor the nutrition situation of children through the national Community-based Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) database, though timely and quality data collection is becoming noticeably difficult.
Since 9 December, the cumulative number of cholera cases in Nyanza Lac district is 22, with all cases receiving the necessary care and services in the Kabonga Cholera Treatment Center resulting. There have been no new cases since 8 January.
A 33-member delegation of the United Nations Security Council, led by Angola, France and the United States, paid a visit to Burundi on 21 and 22 January, during which the Council met with the President of Burundi, authorities, civil society, media, parts of the United Nations Country Team, and other key stakeholders.
Situation Overview & Humanitarian Needs
Overall, the political and security situation in Burundi remains volatile, with recurrent attacks taking place in Bujumbura and a general climate of fear in affected areas. This continues to impact the situation of women and children and increase humanitarian needs. The number of displaced people registered has increased to 25,081 in three provinces, Makamba, Kirundo and Rutana (IOM, 29 January 2016). The total number of refugees in neighboring countries has increased to 237,497, of which 54 per cent are children (UNHCR, 29 January 2016).
On 28 December 2015, the end of year radio broadcast from the Presidential Office announced a number of new measures. This includes an “austerity budget” which was reduced by 18 per cent compared to 2015, with social sectors being particularly hit. The overall budget of the Ministry of Education is reduced by a third, the total budget of the Ministry of Health is cut in half, and budgets of the Ministries relevant for the provision of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services as well as the Ministry in charge of Human Rights, including child protection, represent less than a third of their 2015 budget.
It should be noted that this new budget reflects the expected suspension of external aid. Foreign resources now represent only 30.2 per cent of the overall budget, compared to 49.5 per cent in the 2015 budget. Particularly for health and education, external aid has been reduced by 87 per cent and 87.9 percent, respectively. These reductions place the gains made for children and women in Burundi over the past years at great risk.
In the same radio broadcast, President Pierre Nkurunziza announced stricter laws and monitoring ofNGOs and media, along with changes to ICT (digital) legislation that will increase monitoring of social media.