On 5 December 2019, heavy rainfall triggered landslides in Cibitoke province in northwestern Burundi. Twenty-seven people were killed and almost 2,000 were forced to relocate. Along with the lives and homes lost, the school in the Nyamakarabo village was also destroyed. Today, some children in the village walk over two hours a day to attend an over-crowded school in a neighboring village. Others have yet to step back in a classroom.
Sadly, climate-induced disasters – especially floods and landslides – have become a considerable and mounting roadblock to children’s access to quality education in Burundi. This is especially true for girls and adolescent girls who already face significant challenges in accessing education.
To address the multiplying risks connected with displacement, climate change, COVID-19 and other impacts of this forgotten protracted crisis, ECW led a four-day scoping mission in March, connecting with the Government of Burundi, donors, United Nations (UN) agencies and key civil society partners. The mission was led by Graham Lang, ECW Chief of Education, and Maarten Barends, ECW Chief of Humanitarian Liaison and External Relations.
As part of its strategic priorities, ECW set a goal to support multi-year resilience programmes (MYRPs) in 26 priority countries affected by protracted crises where vulnerabilities and education needs are significantly high and underfunded. Burundi is one of these countries.
A majority of internally displaced people in Burundi – 83 per cent – have been driven from their homes by floods, landslides, and other natural disasters. With this multi-year programme, ECW and partners aim to help build resilience and mitigate the impact of climate-induced disasters in Burundi.
Through meetings with an array of international and national actors in the country, ECW’s team laid the ground for the joint understanding of the needs of crisis-affected communities in Burundi that is core to the programme’s collaborative response model.
Burundi is experiencing recurrent humanitarian crises. In 2020, about 1.7 million people – including close to 1 million children – were in urgent need of humanitarian assistance in the country. From natural disasters (such as landslides, floods and drought) to high incidences of cholera, malaria, and measles, acute malnutrition, and an ongoing socio-economic crisis, the children and youth in Burundi and their futures are in danger. Internally displaced people, returnees, and host communities are especially in need of critical education assistance.
“Children lost their access to education. This is exactly the kind of situation that ECW will support with the new multi-year resilience programme.” – Graham Lang, Chief of Education, ECW