Burundi: OCHA Burundi Information Bulletin 1-15 March, 3/25/99

Burundi: OCHA Burundi Information Bulletin 1-15 March, 3/25/99

Humanitarian Operations in Burundi

Information Bulletin, 1 March - 15 March 1999

Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs


Working groups resume deliberations at Arusha

Over 80 delegates from Burundi travelled to Arusha for a new round of committee proceedings. The 1st committee on the Nature of the Conflict discusses the sources of conflict and ethnicity; the 2nd committee on Democracy and Good Governance discusses electoral systems and institutional reform; while the 3rd committee on Peace and Security discusses reform of the armed forces and the implementation of security aspects of a peace agreement. The 4th committee on reconstruction and economic development discusses issues related to reinstallation and reintegration. The United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator/UNDP Representative travelled to Arusha, along with the UNDP Emergency Programme Officer and the UNDP/UNOPS Expert on Reinstallation, to give a presentation on reinstallation on 15 March 1999. The fifth round of the Arusha talks will be held in June 1999.

EU Special Representative visits Burundi

The Special Representative of the European Union for the Great Lakes Region, Mr. Aldo Ajello paid an 8-day visit to Burundi from 26 February to 5 March 1999. He met, amongst others, with President Buyoya, the First Vice President and the President of the National Assembly. During a press conference at the end of his visit he said that Burundi offered a glimmer of hope because the Burundians were negotiating. He explained that the main purpose of his visit had been to the see to what extent Burundians felt part of the peace process and felt it was representing their own ideas. Ajello indicated he was optimistic about the Arusha process, which could produce an general agreement before the end of the year.

Burundian Minister of Justice meets President Mandela

Burundi's Justice Minister Terence Sinunguriza met with South African President Nelson Mandela on 3 March 1999 to brief him on the Burundian peace process. President Mandela expressed his support for the ongoing peace talks and indicated that a peaceful resolution of the conflict would send a powerful message to the troubled Great Lakes Region. South Africa is playing an active role in the Burundian peace process. President Mandela`s legal advisor, Fink Haysom, is chairing the constitutional committee, while General Andrew Masondo is working with the committee dealing with the establishment of a cease fire.

President Buyoya gives Interview to East African

In an interview with the Kenyan Newspaper the `East African` President Buyoya talked about the peace process and the conflict in the DRC. According to Buyoya the government's priorities have not changed because of the suspension of the embargo. However, the suspension of the embargo has given Burundi breathing space to consolidate its priorities and put the country back on the route to recovery. According to Buyoya, the main priorities of the Arusha negotiations are democracy and good governance, in particularly institutional reforms, the drafting of a new constitution and the issue of a transitional government. Other priorities mentioned by the President, include the signing of a cease-fire, the management of security, the nature of the conflict and reconstruction. Buyoya valued the internal political partnership and said he was satisfied with progress made so far. On the conflict in the DRC, Buyoya mentioned that Burundi's involvement was not as deep as many people think and that it was limited to securing trade routes on lake Tanganyika.

USD 2 Million for Good Governance

Burundi's Foreign Affairs Minister Mr. Severin Ntahomvukiye and the UNDP Resident Representative signed a funding agreement worth USD 2 million for Burundi's Support to Good Governance project. The project, placed under the direct supervision of the First Vice-President, aims to strengthen various areas of good governance, such as civil society, the fight against economic and financial corruption, the judiciary system and human rights. With regard to support to civil society, the project aims to rejuvenate the traditional Ubushingantaha institution. The project is expected to run for two years.

Security in Bujumbura Rural remains volatile

The security situation in Bujumbura Rural remains extremely volatile, most notably the areas immediately east and south of the capital. Confrontations between the military and armed groups take place on a daily basis. In once incident in the early morning of 11 March 1999 an armed group attacked a military position at Nyamaboko in Kanyosha commune. The attack was clearly heard in the capital.

Humanitarian Activities

Humanitarian assistance in Bujumbura Rural.

On 8 March, the Humanitarian Coordinator convened a meeting of key implementing UN and NGO partners in Bujumbura rural. The objective of the meeting was to undertake a common analysis of the situation in the province, which remains one of the more affected areas in Burundi, in terms of insecurity and humanitarian needs. Since November 1998, Bujumbura rural has also been characterised by a high number of newly displaced populations which now amounts to 40,000 in three locations (5,000 at Mutambu, 15,000 at Kabezi and 20,000 at Mubone). The participants sought to define a common approach towards the type and extent of assistance to be provided to these populations. It was decided that UN agencies would limit their assistance to measures that would not encourage continued dislocation of these IDPs. Because of the rainy season, temporary hangars of plastic sheeting were considered desirable (if the materials can be located quickly among existing stock), but no general distribution of plastic sheeting will take place. As the seed protection ration distribution has just been finalised and covers needs up until the end of March, additional food distributions are not considered necessary at present. Return packages will be provided to encourage the return of the populations to their original homes, as soon as security permits. The situation continues to be closely monitored by the humanitarian community.

Storm destroys 100 houses in Bujumbura city

Approximately 100 of 420 dwellings of IDPs at Camara in Bujumbura city were severely destroyed or damaged during a heavy storm on 1 March 1999. On 3 March a mission composed of UNOPS, CRS, UNDP, the Ministry for Reinstallation and OCHA visited the site to assess needs. The people affected were offered the opportunity to move to a nearby site where they could live in more sturdily constructed houses located on a government compound. This, however, would be a temporary solution only, until the Ministry of Reinstallation can identify a new site in a better location. The current site, which was unfortunately built on a former rice field, will be dismantled. In the interim UNICEF will assist with the construction of temporary latrines and CRS will distribute non food items.
IFRC is providing volunteers to help with the construction of the latrines. IRC in collaboration with Regideso (government body responsible for the provision of water) is investigating the possibility of improving the water supply. No long-term intervention is planned.

The nutritional situation in Burundi

UNICEF is currently in the process of producing an overview of the nutritional situation in Burundi, following nutritional surveys that have been carried out in almost all of the provinces. The study compares the nutritional situation over the January-August 1998 period with that of September 1998-February 1999. The preliminary results of the study show that the nutritional situation has improved over time, which is probably due to increased access to land by displaced populations, which has allowed the resumption of agricultural activities. However, while the severe malnutrition rate had generally decreased, the chronic malnutrition rate remains high, in particularly for children. UNICEF will present a final report on its findings in early April 1999.

Nutritional surveys in Bubanza, Kayanza and Bururi

In February 1999, the British NGO Children's Aid Direct carried out a nutritional survey in Bubanza, the province with the largest number of IDPs. The objectives for the survey were to assess the current nutritional status amongst children aged 6-59 months and to compare the situation and nutritional evolution with previous surveys. It was found that the global malnutrition rate was 9.75%, down from 15.6% in August 1998, while the severe malnutrition rate was 3.70%, down from 5.1 %. The mortality rate for 1998 for children under five years of age was 4.75/10,000 a day, which is higher than the 4.34/10,000 a day recorded in 1997. The decreased malnutrition rates can be explained by the improved security situation which has improved access to fields, markets, health centres and feeding programmes. Recent nutritional surveys were also undertaken in Kayanza and Bururi provinces. The French NGO, Action Contre la Faim, presented the results of a nutritional survey which was recently carried out in Kayanza province. It was established that the global malnutrition rate was 9.7% while the severe malnutrition rate was 1.7%. The mortality rate for children under-five years of age was identified as 1 per 10,000 per day. The NGO Austrian Help Programme carried out a nutritional survey in Bururi province which indicates a global malnutrition rate of 9.18% and a severe malnutrition rate of 2.48%. The survey targeted children under-five living outside of camps.

USD 65 Million EU rehabilitation project

The European Union will be funding a USD 65 million project to rehabilitate houses and community infrastructure in areas that have been severely affected by civil strife but where the security situation has now substantially improved. The project will also provide support to strengthen the health, education and agricultural sectors with a view towards promoting community development. The project will adhere to the general guidelines discussed at the Burundi donor meeting in NY in early January and will specifically target formerly displaced and repatriated populations. The project, which is expected to commence in September 1999, will be carried out in association with the Government and other partners.

Activities of CARE International

Care International is one of the key NGOs working in Burundi and is active is various sectors. CARE has recently completed a water project in Muramvya province, consisting of the construction of 92 water collection points and the rehabilitation of 9 water-pipe systems. In Ngozi province CARE has assisted with the construction of 700 houses and the rehabilitation of a primary school in Ruhoro commune, while in Kayanza province the construction 250 houses was recently completed. CARE teams distributed 3,415 MT of seed-protection food rations, provided by WFP, to 399,285 beneficiaries in 245 IDP sites country wide in support of FAO's seed distribution programme. In Kayanza province 71 MT of seeds were distributed to 9,908 families.

Burundian Red Cross distributes mosquito nets

Malaria is the main cause of death in Burundi, notably among women and children below 5 years of age. Impregnated mosquito nets are an effective way to combat malaria and can reduce mortality by 50-70%. Therefore, the Burundian and Spanish Red Cross have initiated a programme to distribute impregnated mosquito nets. 12,000 nets have been distributed to vulnerable families in Makamba province, which is one of the areas most affected by the disease. In Nyanza Lac, 35% of the deaths of children under the age of five are due to malaria.

This bulletin is prepared by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Bujumbura, Burundi. It is compiled from input received from humanitarian organisations working in Burundi. Tel: (257) 218034 or 219157/8 Fax: (257) 218035 E-mail:

Date: Thu, 25 Mar 1999 10:39:02 +0300 (EAT) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Burundi: OCHA Burundi Information Bulletin 1-15 March, 3/25/99

Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D

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