Poor farmers in Burundi will get livestock and training from new US$17.8 million IFAD-supported project

Release number IFAD/33/07

Rome 26 June 2007 – Poor farmers in Burundi will receive animals, veterinary medicines and training through a new US$17.8 million development project supported by IFAD. The project will help them feed their families and earn much-needed cash by marketing meat, milk and other products. It will reach about 560,000 poor rural people in seven provinces.

"Burundi is one of the poorest countries in the world," said Claus Reiner, IFAD's country programme manager for Burundi. "Twelve years of civil war have left about 70 per cent of the rural people living in poverty."

"Animals such as sheep, goats, rabbits, guinea pigs, poultry and bees can play a key role in feeding families and increasing their incomes," he said.

The Livestock Sector Rehabilitation Support Project will be funded largely by a grant of US$14 million from IFAD. As a country with a high risk of debt distress, Burundi is eligible for 100 per cent grant assistance under IFAD's newly approved debt sustainability framework, which replaces loans with grants for those countries deemed unable to sustain debt. The debt sustainability framework is part of a unified effort by the world's biggest multilateral financial institutions to ensure that essential financial assistance does not cause undue financial hardship for those countries most in need.

The grant agreement was signed last month by Jean de Dieu Mutabazi, Minister for Agriculture and Livestock of the Republic of Burundi and IFAD Vice-President Kanayo Nwanze. The Government of Burundi will provide US$2.2 million and participants in the project will contribute US$1.6 million.

Small farmers will receive animals and basic veterinary medicines. After one breeding cycle, the farmers will pass on some offspring to other poor rural families. Farmers will become the owners of the animals only when they have passed on the offspring.

"This distribution system is known as a solidarity chain," said Reiner. "Another IFAD-supported programme in Burundi is already using solidarity chains to distribute livestock and we have seen that they work well." 

Elected community committees will manage the solidarity chains. The African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD), a nongovernmental organization, will work with the committees to ensure that the chains are run fairly. In particular, they will check that the offspring are of a similar quality and age when they are passed on, so everyone benefits equally.

The project will train and support community para-veterinary workers to improve the general health and productivity of livestock. And it will ensure that processing facilities are accessible so that farmers can bring products such as milk and honey to market.

The project will give priority to the most vulnerable groups – unemployed young people, households headed solely by women and returning refugees who do not have land or livestock. It will operate in the provinces of Cibitoke, Kayanza, Karuzi, Ruyigi, Gitega, Bururi and Bujumbura.

The project will introduce farmers' field schools, a hands-on training method that enables smallholders to improve their livestock management skills.

With this project, IFAD will have financed seven programmes and projects in Burundi – three of which are ongoing – for a total commitment of US$87.8 million.

IFAD is an international financial institution and a specialized United Nations agency dedicated to eradicating poverty and hunger in rural areas of developing countries. Through low-interest loans and grants, IFAD develops and finances programmes and projects that enable poor rural people to overcome poverty themselves. There are 195 ongoing IFAD-supported rural poverty eradication programmes and projects, worth a total of US$6.7 billion. IFAD has invested US$3.1 billion, with cofinancing provided by partners including governments, project participants, multilateral and bilateral donors. These initiatives will help about 86 million poor rural women and men to achieve better lives for themselves and their families. Since starting operations in 1978, IFAD has invested US$9.6 billion in 738 programmes and projects that have reached more than 307 million poor rural women and men. Governments and other financing sources in recipient countries, including project participants, contributed US$9.1 billion, and multilateral, bilateral and other donors provided another US$7.1 billion in cofinancing