Recent estimates based on wealth index comparison indicate that poverty has worsened from 2005 to 2009. Burundi faces tremendous challenges in diversifying the economy and income sources, reducing the vulnerability of the agricultural sector to shocks, and improving governance. It is unlikely that Burundi will reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015, despite signs of progress.

Burundi has signed and ratified most of main regional and international human rights instruments, including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the international Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The Government of Burundi approved its first Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) in September 2006, following an extensive participatory process. The strategy has four strategic priorities: (i) improve governance and security, (ii) promote sustainable and equitable economic growth, (iii) develop human capital, and (iv) prevent and control the spread of HIV/AIDS. The second generation of PRSP 2011-2016 has been completed and adopted by the government in January 2012. All these documents and strategies were in line with  the eight Millennium Goals and  the 2025 Vision of the government to accelerate growth and poverty reduction in Burundi.

Burundi's potential for sustained economic growth is hampered by some major setbacks including:

  • An economy based on rain-fed non-mechanized agriculture and handicapped by decreasing crop yields due soil degradation, climate hazards, galloping demography and land grabs for other purpose than for food production.  Over all, the food production lies essentially on rural women’s work and yet women have neither access nor control to natural resources, land or other means of production. According to the assessment made by WFP[1] in 2008, 50% of households’ crops are only kept for consumption. The rest is sold on the market. It provides “farm-financed social welfare” and a foundation for viable rural communities.
  • Poor political and economic governance and limited investment in the local industry, leading to unemployment.
  • Illiteracy and ignorance for its population majority of whom leave in rural areas
  • A young population but with no clear policies and strategies for youth empowerment
  • Pandemics including HIV/AIDs with no clear response from government and financing institutions

[1] WFP, Comprehensive Food Security and vulnerability Analysis (Burundi,), December 2008.