Case Study: Burundi | Sustainable Livelihoods

With about 90 percent of the population living on less than $2 per day, Burundi is one of the poorest countries in the world. Ninety percent of families in Burundi are subsistence farmers who rely on farming to meet their food and income needs. Even during harvest season, when agricultural production is most plentiful, households spend up to 60% of their income on food. Natural disasters, such as floods and droughts are also a constant threat and are worsened by increasing deforestation. Dwindling land and natural resources, coupled with high population growth rate and persistent political and ethnic conflict have resulted in poor education and health outcomes trapping many Burundians in a cycle of poverty.

In partnership with the Anglican Church of Burundi, Episcopal Relief & Development supports an integrated, multi-sector development program that focuses on improved agriculture, environmental protection, health promotion, awareness on violence against women and children and microfinance for holistic transformation of communities.

To increase food security while conserving natural resources, communities in Burundi are using farming techniques such as building contour trenches and planting trees on and off farms. Farmers learn about composting, improved crop varieties, tree nurseries and other practices which enrich their livelihoods and environment. At the household level, families are planting kitchen gardens to increase their access to a diversity of nutritious food. Particularly vulnerable families, such as single parent headed households and those with people living with HIV/AIDS are specifically targeted for these activities.

The Church of Burundi has had a strong presence in national-level advocacy forums on violence against women, HIV/AIDS and other social and health development issues, and its community-based programs address these issues at the local level. HIV/AIDS prevention activities focus on mother-to-child transmission, with faith and youth leaders working to raise awareness and reduce the stigma and discrimination associated with the disease (similar strategies were used during the Ebola epidemic). Prevention and response efforts for violence against women equip faith and lay leaders to support survivors of violence and change destructive attitudes and behaviors related to gender and sexuality. Volunteers are also trained on malaria prevention and responses.

Additionally, in 2018 PEAB (The Province of the Anglican Church of Burundi), is putting into practice multi-sector strategies for specific communities around the country. This effort is rooted in asset recognition and reinforcement; institutional strengthening; and careful evaluation of previously successful practices. The goal is holistic transformation of households and communities through education and skill-building opportunities, strengthened and expanded social networks and improved leveraging of community and church-based assets in the areas of food security, livelihood development, environmental conservation, health, literacy, savings and gender-based violence prevention and response.


Our work with Women focuses on helping communities promote the rights of women and children and move toward the vision that everyone deserves a life free from violence in a society where they are treated with dignity and respect. Only then can communities truly heal and thrive.


Our work with Children supports and protects kids under six so they reach appropriate health
and developmental milestones. This focus on early development is foundational and critical to
helping children achieve their full potential as future contributing members of their communities.


Our Climate-related work focuses on how families and communities can work
together to adapt to the effects of rapidly changing weather patterns. This work includes
preparing for and recovering from climate-influenced events such as floods, hurricanes and other disasters.

Burundi Press Releases and Stories

Fast Facts

Burundi has reduced its rate of HIV/AIDS-related deaths by 75%, but is still in the top third worldwide.

Agriculture accounts for over 40% of Burundi's GDP and employs more than 90% of the population.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
Goal 2: Zero Hunger

554be761359bb2c17e80f64e0f1fbdcdEnd hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture  Learn more »

Goal 3: Good Health and Well-Being

Goal 3: Good Health and Well-BeingEnsure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages  Learn more»

Goal 5: Gender Equality

Goal 5: Gender EqualityAchieve gender equality and empower all women and girls  Learn more »

Goal 6: Clean Water and Sanitation

Goal 6: Clean Water and SanitationEnsure access to water and sanitation for all Learn more »

Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and CommunitiesMake cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable  Learn more »

Goal 13: Climate Action

Goal 13: Climate ActionTake urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts  Learn more »

Goal 15: Life on Land

Goal 15: Life on LandSustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, halt biodiversity loss  Learn more »

Goal 16: Peace and Justice

Goal 16: Peace and JusticePromote just, peaceful and inclusive societies  Learn more »

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