Putting food on the table, a daily hassle
Providing for his family has been a brain teaser for Amand (52), a father of five from Karamba community, Buhiga commune, Karusi province in the northeastern part of Burundi. Apart from the daily puzzle of putting food on the table and clothing his family, he has also to avail school materials for his five children.
Food insecurity is a common issue in that locality; Karusi being among the provinces with a high rate of severe acute malnutrition and stunting, where more than half of children between six and nine months of age have only two meals a day, and 8% eat only once a day.
For a long time, farming had been Amand's only source of income to survive. However, as the soil was barren, the harvests would be discouraging, leaving Amand struggling to solve life's hassles. “I could hardly provide what my family needed”, he says. Lack of a stable source of income was the major reason behind the hardships of Amand.
Security briefings held each Monday in Buhiga commune reported theft cases especially in crop fields, says Bacebaseme Therence, a communal administrator in Buhiga. This meant food insecurity was even more real.
After realising the vulnerabilities of the communities in three communes (Bugendana commune in Gitega province, and Shombo and Buhiga communes in Karusi province), World Vision implemented a resilience project, with funding from the World Food Programme (WFP).
“The criteria was clear and commendable; only vulnerable households were targeted”, says Bacebaseme.
In the three communes, a total of 5,698 vulnerable households benefited from the project.
World Vision targeted the most vulnerable households in those communes after realising that they were lacking basic needs. The project aimed at reducing food and nutritional insecurity to increase the resilience of rural populations.
Henceforth, the project contributed to improving household access to food, enabled the beneficiaries to create assets and invest in income-generating activities, improved nutritious food intake among project beneficiaries, and reduced the consumption of firewood and contribute to the restoration of ecosystems.
To achieve this, beneficiaries were taught improved agricultural techniques and given inputs; they were given cash to create assets, stoves made of clay that consume less firewood, and contour bands. Each household was also trained about setting a development plan.
Thanks to such plans, beneficiaries appreciate that there are tangible results like livestock and verdant crop fields. Amand, who used to find it hard to put enough food on the table for his family, now does.
Food security is possible
“We were trained on setting a kitchen garden, and I have planted amaranth and carrots. I no longer have a problem when I am in need of vegetables. As you see, carrots are ready for harvest. Recently, I took a small basket to the market, and it was sold at 5,000 BIF (US$ 2.5). Out of it, I bought two bowls of beans, oil and a ½ kg of salt and the rest was saved in a ViSLA (village savings and lending association)”, Amand shares.
Fifteen-year-old Blair, Amand’s son, noticed the change: “Before, we couldn’t eat to our fill; nowadays things changed for good. We eat as we wish!”, the young boy says.
As all beneficiaries were trained on setting a development plan for their household, this came as an essential ingredient and catalyser for change. Amand and other beneficiaries stick to what they learned to build their vision for their future.
“I have three projects; I started with planting maize. Once I plant beans and harvest, I will have to wait until the market price increases. One portion will be consumed and another sold. I also have a project of buying a cow. I will have to collect 200,000 BIF (US$ 101) through selling maize and beans, and some two or three goats to make it happen”.
The positive change in beneficiaries' lives is also seen by the local administration. In Bugendana commune, the number of vulnerable people who used to queue at the communal’s office seeking support is decreasing, while in Buhiga commune, cases of theft in the fields significantly decreased.
“Thanks to the cash you (World Vision) provided, they (beneficiaries) bought livestock (goats); this impacted positively their well-being."
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How have we been doing to sustain household resilience and livelihoods?
To increase household resilience and livelihood, World Vision is focusing its programmes and projects around three approved core project models: Building Secure Livelihoods (BSL), Savings for Transformation (S4T) and Ultra-poor Graduation model (UPG). In 2020, through the lead farmer approach, 917 lead farmers groups gained and disseminated improved farming skills to 57,898 small holder farmers. World Vision also supported associations and 57,898 households with farming inputs such as improved seeds, planting materials for multiplication, and small livestock to restore food production capacity. A total of 24,568 kitchen gardens were established and enabled preparation of balanced diets for 6,071 children from most vulnerable households. According to World Vision’s technical programme baseline and evaluation, the proportion of parents or caregivers able to provide well for their children has increased from 4.90% to 7.40% and the proportion of young children receiving a minimum meal frequency has increased from 51.4% to 66.2% between 2016 and 2020 in World Vision’s Area Programme areas in Burundi (Technical Programme Baseline 2016 and Technical Programme Evaluation 2020).
 UNOCHA (2016): Humanitarian Needs Overview Burundi 2017