WFP Helping Burundi’s Fight Against Malnutrition

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burundiBurundi (pronounced /bəˈɹʊndɨ/), officially the Republic of Burundi (Kirundi: Republika y’Uburundi, [buˈɾundi]; French: République du Burundi, [byˈʁyndi]), is a landlocked country in the Great Lakes region of Eastern Africa, bordered by Rwanda to the north, Tanzania to the east and south and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west.

Its capital is Bujumbura.

Although the country is landlocked, much of the southwestern border is adjacent to Lake Tanganyika.

Lake TanganyikaThe Twa, Tutsi and Hutu peoples have lived in Burundi for at least five hundred years and, for over two hundred years, Burundi was ruled as a kingdom. At the beginning of the twentieth century, however, Germany and Belgium occupied the region and Burundi and Rwanda became a European colony known as Ruanda-Urundi. Social differences between the Tutsi and Hutu have since contributed to political unrest in the region, leading to civil war in the middle of the twentieth century. Presently, Burundi is governed as a presidential representative democratic republic.

Burundi is one of the five poorest countries in the world. It has one of the lowest per capita GDPs of any nation in the world and a low gross domestic product largely due to warfare, corruption, poor access to education and the effects of HIV/AIDS.

Burundi is densely populated and experiences substantial emigration. According to a 2012 DHL Global Connectedness Index, Burundi is the least globalized of 140 surveyed countries.

Cobalt and copper are among Burundi’s natural resources, while coffee and sugar are two of its main exports.

At Gakere health centre in the northern province of Ngozi, the World Food Programme is providing vital food supplements to malnourished pregnant women, nursing mothers and children under five.

Burundi VenancieLittle Cécile weighed 2.70 kgs at birth in 2010. As time passed, her mother, Vénancie Sinzotuma, noticed that her youngest daughter was not growing normally. As soon as Cécile’s mother learned from a neighbour that WFP had a special feeding programme at Gakere, she did not hesitate.

“Her weight didn’t reach 8 kgs until February this year so I decided to take her to the health centre,” said mother-of-two, Vénancie. “Within the space of a month, she gained 700 grams.”

Vénancie Sinzotuma was queuing at the centre along with other mothers, carrying her daughter on her back. She had come to check how the health of her child was progressing. Other mothers had suspected their children had malnutrition and had come to get their children diagnosed and, if necessary, registered in WFP’s supplementary feeding project.

Little Cécile is among the children whose health is improving and who will soon no longer need supplementary food. And she is not the only one. According to Claude Niyonkuru, the director of the health center, nearly 60 percent of malnourished children assisted through WFP’s supplementary feeding programme since October 2012 have completely recovered. WFP is implementing the initiative in 206 health centres throughout Burundi.

Malnourished women and children are given fortified corn-soya blend (which can be made into a porridge), sugar, and vegetable oil fortified with vitamins A and D to return them to full health. The programme is making a big difference in this country where chronic malnutrition rates are as high as 58 percent, according to the 2010 Demographic and Health Survey.

WFP – Burundi

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