Case Study: Burundi | Sustainable Livelihoods

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, prevention of violence against women and children (VAWC) and savings groups 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. As part of this program, farmers learn about composting, improved crop varieties, tree nurseries and other practices that enrich their livelihoods and environment. At the household level, families are also planting kitchen gardens to increase their access to nutritious food. Particularly vulnerable families, such as households with orphaned children, are specifically targeted for these activities.

People often join the program through the formation of literacy and savings circles, as the focus is on group solidarity, confidence-building and creating a vision for their individual and collective prosperity. Through these groups, program staff and community volunteers lead practical education sessions related to farming, VAWC prevention and response, HIV and malaria prevention, and functional and financial literacy.

The Church of Burundi has had a strong presence in national-level advocacy forums on violence against women, HIV/AIDS, family planning and other social development issues, and its community-based programs address these issues at the local level. HIV/AIDS prevention activities focus on voluntary testing and counseling. Faith and youth leaders raising awareness to reduce the stigma and discrimination associated with the disease. Similar strategies were used during the Ebola epidemic to prevent transmission. Prevention and response efforts for violence against women equip faith and lay leaders and community volunteers to support survivors of violence. At the same time, the program works to change destructive attitudes and behaviors related to gender and sexuality. Community volunteers are also trained on malaria prevention and response.

In 2018, the Church of Burundi put into practice an integrated approach to community development, piloting multi-sector projects in nine communities around the country. Aligned with their 2017-2021 Strategic Plan, the program brings together multi-sector activities and the Mothers Union literacy and savings work into one program. The goal is to expand into at least 36 other communities by 2022.

Lastly, Episcopal Relief & Development is working with Church partners to strengthen their administrative and management structures through improved systems, policies and procedures with appropriate staff training and skills development. These institutional capacity building efforts are essential to ensure the program’s future success and sustainability.


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 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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.

Read more about Women
Donation to the Women fund