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.

Water is essential for life.  But the quality of the world’s fresh water resources is threatened by improper sanitation, agricultural runoff and lack of treatment facilities, as well as disasters and environmental changes.  Every 15 seconds a child dies from a water-related disease. Read more about Clean Water.

Read more about Clean Water
Donation to the Clean Water fund

Over 300,000 women worldwide die each year from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. Millions of infants die in their first few weeks of life – many of them also from preventable conditions. Prenatal care and monitoring health of expectant and new mothers and their children reduces illness and saves lives. Read more about Maternal and Child Health.

Read more about Maternal & Child Health

Almost one billion people are affected by chronic hunger and poverty worldwide.  Malnutrition or lack of access to food can jeopardize overall productivity, health and well-being. Read more about Agriculture.

Read more about Agriculture

Worldwide, an estimated 2.6 billion people do not have access to adequate sanitation. Proper sanitation and hygiene education can prevent the spread of disease ― saving lives and protecting communities. Read more about Sanitation & Hygiene.

Read more about Sanitation & Hygiene

Planning ahead for disasters can go far in minimizing their potential impact – especially for people already facing poverty, who may lose their few assets or safety nets. To this end, Episcopal Relief & Development is partnering with the Episcopal/Anglican Church to better prepare for and respond to disasters. Read more about Disaster Risk Reduction.

Read more about Disaster Risk Reduction

Gender equality, women’s empowerment and gender-based violence (GBV) prevention and response are cross-cutting themes that shape and inform all of Episcopal Relief & Development’s integrated programs worldwide. In order to sustainably and equitably address hunger, poverty, disease and post-disaster relief and recovery, local attitudes and customs around gender, power and gender-based violence must also be taken into account.

Read more about Gender Equality & GBV