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[Government policies and actions in Burundi in the area of rural development].

  • Mworoha, E
Published Article
Publication Date
Jan 01, 1986
PMID: 12268240


This article discusses policies and actions designed by the government of Burundi to assure food self-sufficiency and to improve living conditions in rural areas. Burundi has had a long history of food self-sufficiency due to good soils, adequate rainfall, and hard work by the rural population. In the past 3 decades, however, the food supply has been threatened by various factors including soil erosion and rapid population increase. The government has undertaken a reforestation program which covered 51,050 hectares in the past 7 years with plans to cover 20% of the national territory by the year 2000. Work has also been done to contain rivers within their courses and to popularize antierosion techniques such as terracing and proper use of pastures. Partly because the population is growing at a rate of 2.7% per year, the average plot available per household is estimated at only 1.3 hectare, rendering efforts to improve productivity imperative. The high cost of chemical fertilizers has forced reliance on compost, and some 6 million compost heaps are now in existence. Agropastoral integration projects are seeking to improve yields through better combinations of livestock and land use. Research to improve the seed supply has already resulted in improved strains of rice, maize, wheat, kidney beans, manioc, sweet potatoes, cotton, tea and coffee. Regional seed production centers are planned to facilitate distribution and adaptation of seeds to each ecological zone. Research is underway to identify appropriate new crops and to extend the ranges of existing crops. To encourage participation of the rural population in agricultural improvement efforts, the government is financing schools and institutions which will train local level agricultural promoters and extension agents. Local governments at all levels, regional development societies, cooperatives and other structures are also being organized to assist farmers. In order to restructure and modernize the rural environment, the government has invested heavily in agricultural development and the prices of agricultural products have been raised repeatedly since 1976. Improved road networks and other infrastructure, provision of credit for agricultural improvements, and provision of affordable building materials and housing credits are among related efforts. Health interventions such as an immunization program which has achieved 50% coverage through 17 medical centers have caused some decline in the infant mortality rate. By the year 2000 according to current plans there will be 300 health centers or 1/10,000 population, and 35 hospitals compared to the 29 currently operating. The number of physicians has increased from 111 in 1980 to 216 in 1984 following addition of a medical school to the University of Burundi. The number of medical technicians has increased from 450 to 555, of auxiliary nurses from 453 to 575, of sanitary technicians from 11 to 28. In pursuit of the government objective of basic education for all children by 1987, the number of students increased from 159,729 in 1979-80 to 296,672 in 1983-84. Practical work in agriculture, artisanry, and other areas is to be introduced, and classes will be conducted in local language rather than French. Centers for nonformal education are also being introduced. Attempts are being made to assure that rural development efforts are in harmony with the culture and social aspects of life in the countryside.

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