Food and Livelihoods

GLF 2017 Blog Competition
Vianney Nduwimana

My writing intends to analyze food and livelihoods: the case of Burundi. Burundi has superficies of 27,834km2 of which 25,950 kmsq are land and mostly composed of hills between 775m and 2,760m above sea level, a heavily populated nation of the highlands of eastern Africa. According to the 2008 census, population was estimated at over 9million, and now it’s approximately 11millions. Burundi subsists mainly upon traditional agriculture. The rural groups cultivate true countryside where dwellings are the most dispersed in the world. The farmers engage in dry agriculture. But the intense degree to which the land is exploited, rain distribution and the altitude allow for two, even three harvests per year, mainly beans which constitute here the basic nourishment of the people. It’s from that perspectives that I am going to analyze how food and livelihoods looks like in Burundi. The country faces a food deficit (or severity of hunger) that has increased in recent years (FAO 2011) as much influenced by low food availability as by limited access and inadequate use of food available. According to the 2008 Crop and Food Security Assessment Missions data (CFSAM) of World Food Program (PAM, 2012) almost 25% of the population was moderately food insecure in Burundi (among the most affected, 31.7% belong to the agricultural population and 29.6% manual and seasonal workers) and more than 52.7 per cent of children under five were chronically malnourished due to vitamin A, iodine, and iron deficiency. Food insecurity has been exacerbated by internal conflicts and by rising world market prices in 2007-2008 and 2010-2011, which has had impact on all commodities and food products, factors of production (inputs). Thus faced with an overall increase in the cost of living (tripling the cost of fuel from February 2010 to February 2011). While agriculture provides 95% of food supply (Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock 2008) and 90% of the population live by agriculture, but this is a subsistence family farming of which 80% of the production is self-consumed, thus food crops occupy 90% of the population cultivating land contributing 80% of agricultural GDP. For instance, on October 16 of each year, the worldwide celebrates international day of food, this day occurred while most people in Burundi are threatened by hunger, one of the participants in celebration of international day of food reflects: “I hardly remember international day of food because my children are starving and I have no job” Other Burundians are in refugee camps in Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo. Most of them have a life of struggle. However, even though more than 90% of Burundians are farmers, livelihood is not proportionally improving due to demographic issues and traditional technics used in agriculture. Since livelihood is becoming harder and harder, there appears negative impacts such as children who often give up school, internal conflicts which exacerbate these issues related to food and livelihoods. Finally, in Burundi, food and livelihoods are not comfortable rather they deserve to be improved if not other problems due to food deficiency and hard livelihood risk to be implemented. It comes to everyone’s responsibility to stop this.

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