Burundi + 4 more

UNICEF Burundi Humanitarian Situation Report, January-March 2019

Situation Report
Originally published



  • In 2019, a total of 8,333 children (5,583 boys, 2,750 girls) accessed critical protection services, including temporary emergency shelter, psychosocial support, release from detention, family tracing and reunification, medical support, as well as access to education and reintegration opportunities.

  • From January to February, 9,621 new cases of children with severe acute malnutrition have been admitted and treated in health facilities supported by UNICEF.

  • A total of 640,328 people, more than half children, were reached with key life-saving messages on Ebola.

  • UNICEF mobilized 51 per cent of 2019 Humanitarian Action for Children funding to respond to the most essential needs of children and women in Burundi

Situation Overview and Humanitarian Needs

Despite some improvement since previous years, the socio-political situation in Burundi remains precarious and the humanitarian situation remains fragile. At the end of 2018, 1.77 million people were estimated to need humanitarian assistance in Burundi (for 2019 humanitarian planning purposes), down from 3.6 million in December 2017. This decrease of needs is mainly due to the relative absence of epidemics in 2018 (except for the cholera outbreak that hit in late December) and in the reduction of persons affected by food insecurity.

With 710,000 persons targeted for assistance in the Humanitarian Response Plan 2019, the situation of the most vulnerable persons still shows persistent needs in some sectors and is expected to be aggravated by natural disasters (floods, landslides, rainfall deficit in some parts of the country, etc.), population movements, the threat of epidemics including cholera, and the risk of cross border spread of Ebola.

A total of 347,309 people, half of whom are children, have found refuge in neighbouring countries, mainly in Tanzania, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Uganda. Since 2017, 63,143 people (57 per cent children), have also returned to Burundi through the ongoing voluntary repatriation process, led by UNHCR within the tripartite agreement with the Governments of Burundi and Tanzania (UNHCR, January 2019). The number of internally displaced people (IDPs) registered in 18 provinces continues to decrease and now stands at 130,562 people (60 per cent children) (IOM, February 2019).

In the northern part of the country, the province of Kirundo is facing a rain deficit, which has worsened the existing food security challenges at family level and further compromised the nutritional status of children. In early March, UNICEF participated in a joint mission with the authorities, UN agencies and partners to assess the food security and nutrition situation following a multi indicator rapid assessment (MIRA). A nutrition response plan was developed and implemented in addition to ongoing nutrition interventions in the affected province. Response in Kirundo will include active mass screening, and the pre-positioning of additional nutrition supplies, mainly RUTF, at district level to respond to an increase in SAM admissions. Community Health Workers (CHW) will be engaged by Nutrition sector members (CONCERN, UNICEF, International Medical Corps) to support CMAM activities at Health facilities.

In 2018, in response to the high risk of cross-border transmission of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) from neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Government of Burundi, with the Ministry of Health (MoH) as lead and key health partners including World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF, developed an EVD Contingency Plan for six months focusing on three scenarios respectively costing USD 1.3, 5.4 and 7.5 million to provide support for preparedness and response to a possible outbreak. In March 2019, partners in preparedness efforts reviewed and updated the operational plans at national and district level and the budget for preparedness upwards to ensure availability of funds for gaps identified. Challenges remain in coordination of preparedness at the district level and in setting up appropriate infrastructure and operational mechanisms for readiness to handle potential cases. Since May 2018, the national taskforce for EVD has mobilized USD 6.6 million to implement the preparedness plan, which represents 45 per cent of the revised planned budget (USD 14.6 million in total). Implementation of the plan continues with focus on communication, health, protection, education, nutrition and WASH interventions. Permanent surveillance of EVD for all travelers entering Burundi is in place in 21 priority Health Districts at the borders with DRC, Rwanda and Tanzania. There are permanent MoH staff present in 19 out of 23 border entry points that continue to screen the body temperature of individuals crossing. As of week 12, 1,732,494 people were screened, 15 alerts investigated by MoH which turned out to be negative.

As depicted by the graph, below, there has been an increase in malaria cases and deaths in Burundi since the beginning of the year in comparison of the number of cases and deaths for the same period in 2018. According to epidemiological data from MoH, the cumulative number of malaria cases reported during the first 12 weeks of 2019 is 1,704,413 cases with 653 deaths, while the MoH had registered 1,266,127 cases and 617 deaths for the same period in 2018 (an increase of approximately 35 per cent in 2019 compared to 2018). Of the 46 health districts in Burundi, 12 have reached epidemic levels of malaria and 20 are on high alert at week 12.