Category archives for: Burundi

MPs Concerned About Delay in Disbursement of Community Funds

By Diane Uwimana

Minister of Community Development, Jeanne d’Arc Kagayo was in the National Assembly this morning to answer to the questions of Members of Parliament. The latter say they are worried about the delay in the disbursement of the community funds estimated at BIF 500 million.

Jean Pierre Sinzinkayo says some MPs conducted an investigation in different communes of the country and they found that the funds were frozen.

Sinzinkayo also says the community projects must be executed by the end of the year, and the funds are still frozen. “This constitutes a barrier to the achievement of the expected goals set up by each commune,” he says.

Pierre Célestin Ndikumana, another MP urges the ministry to monitor activities carried out in communes so that it should ensure that expected projects are really implemented following their action plan. “It should contribute to the community development,” he says.

Jeanne d’Arc Kagayo says the disbursement of the community funds delayed because the Finance ministry gave guidelines that the funds would be distributed when there is a computer software to facilitate the management of the funds. “The finance ministry should control and follow-up the use of state funds,” she says.

The Minister also says that experts in economy and law-makers from the two ministries analyzed the project to set up the guidelines to use the funds so that they should be granted to each commune without any problem. “We have signed an agreement that the funds must pass through the community funds (FONIC) before reaching the local administration”, she says.

Burundi

Global Fund Suspends Direct Subsidies to Health Ministry

Following flaws in the financial management and procurement observed in the ministry of public health, the Global Fund… Read more »

Global Fund Suspends Direct Subsidies to Health Ministry

By Diane Uwimana

Following flaws in the financial management and procurement observed in the ministry of public health, the Global Fund has just withdrawn the direct subsidies to the ministry and granted it to the United Nations Development Programs for supervision. Right groups say it is a loss for Burundi.

In the correspondence sent to the minister of public health on 12 October, the Global Fund noticed that the first-half of 2017 rating does not change significantly and remains below expectations. While Global Fund’s priorities are to ensure funds are well used to achieve the best possible results, the limitations in the results, financial management, the decision-making space of the implementers which restricts the operational responsiveness necessary for the acceleration of programs, are all factors that lead to the under-utilization of available resources.

At the end of 2017, the Global Fund finds that the unused financing is estimated at more than $ 30 million (based on the current absorption rate of 65%). This situation, which places the fund under the obligation to review the modalities for the implementation of subsidies in Burundi, is also likely to affect future financing if solutions to it are not implemented quickly.

In order not to leave a situation that is detrimental to the optimal use of resources for the benefit of the populations, the Global Fund is obliged to use the additional safeguard policy, as was communicated on 2 December 2016. The Global Fund has not accepted the proposal to set up a Project Management Unit within the ministry of health, considering that this proposal does not satisfactorily meet the operational procedures of the fund. It has opted for a change in the modalities of implementation for the 2018-2020 period. The UNDP will now acts as a single principal recipient under the strategic direction of the national coordinating body. The support provided by UNDP in this configuration will also enable national programs and civil society to maximize the impact of the allocated sum of $ 72.3 million for the 2018-2020 period.

“It is a loss for the country”

Hamza Venant Burikukiye, the chairman of CAPES+- a local NGO advocating people living with HIV/AIDS, says it is regrettable to hear that the ministry of public health is unable to appropriately use the funds granted for the benefit of the population. “After our warning, we thought things had improved, but in vain”, he says.

Burikukiye believes that the Ministry of public security will continue to seek the collaboration with the Global Fund even though beneficiaries will continue to be supported for the good image of the country.

In February, two local NGOs-CAPES+ and PISC Burundi- warned of irregular activities within the Ministry of Public Health that might cause the government to lose from the International Monetary Fund(IMF) an estimated amount of $72.300.822 primarily intended for the fight against malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS.

Sylvain Habanabakize, spokesperson for the network of patients in Burundi, says the withdrawal of the subsidies from the Ministry of Public Health by Global Fund is a loss for the country in general and for the beneficiaries in particular. He urges the Ministry of public health to renew its collaboration with the Global Fund. Iwacu has tried to contact the Ministry of public health, for more details but in vain.

Since 2003, the Global Fund has contributed up to more than $ 275 million which enabled the achievement of the national results: the distribution of 21 million nets, of which 6.4 million were donated during the 2017 campaign; care for 51,726 patients on ARV (Dec 2016), representing 64% of People living with HIV/AIDS, 6900 tuberculosis patients treated per year (from 2003 to 2015), and 7,662 patients in 2016 as well as the construction and strengthening of other health infrastructures in the country.

Traders Demand to Resume Activities in Newly Rehabilitated Markets.

By Bella Lucia Nininahazwe

Six former markets were recently rehabilitated and a new one was constructed in Bujumbura. Traders have not yet returned to those markets though they were inaugurated two months ago. As it will rain soon, traders want to restart their activities in those markets.

They display their goods under a blazing sun, and umbrellas at the edge of the streets. They want to return to their former places in the rehabilitated markets. “It will soon rain while our goods are spread out under the sun. How shall we continue to work? I demand the government to be as quick as possible and give places before it rains”, says N.M a trader met in Kinama market.

Other traders fear that they may lose their places because they think the delay is intended to cause some speculations. “What are they doing? This delay is creating confusion. I think that they should make sure no trader loses his/her place” ,says another businesswoman met in Kinama market adding that staying where they are today does not benefit them as it is not clean and safe especially in the coming days as it will rain soon.

Nkurikiye Ramadhani, senior adviser to Bujumbura Mayor, says the delay to distribute those places is due to a problem of small spaces observed after the rehabilitation. “While there are some other parts that were added like an infirmary, a custody, a civil protection room, an administrative block and other units to make the markets more modernized, the area remains the same”, says Nkurikiye, adding that they are dealing with the delimitation of the stalls.

He says the mayor is aware of the delay and is doing his best to let traders resume their activities before the end of the year. “We are still dealing with delimitation but it will end with November. We hope that we will distribute the places in December”, says Nkurikiye

About the fear of some traders to lose their places, Nkurikiye reassures that the mayor will do all his best to allocate the places to whoever has a market registration card.

Burundi

Global Fund Suspends Direct Subsidies to Health Ministry

Following flaws in the financial management and procurement observed in the ministry of public health, the Global Fund… Read more »

Women Represented At 6 Percent in Media, Says Afjo

By Lorraine Josiane Manishatse

Burundian women journalists say they are not sufficiently represented. They accuse media officials of underestimating them. The Association of Burundian Women Journalists calls on media officials to increase the representation and participation of women in the media.

The number of male journalist is far superior to that of women, Agnès Nindorera, Chairperson of AFJO said on 11 October. The study conducted by the National Communication Council (CNC) reveals that male journalists represent over 82% while women represent only 17.9%. The same study reveals that women who participated as resource in Burundi media represent only 40%.

The chairperson of AFJO said in the meeting held in May 2017 that some media officials were still unconvinced that women and men have the same ability to work. They say women are fragile and cannot conduct a fieldwork like men, hence preferring to recruit more men than women, says Nindorera. “Women are capable. They have attended the same schools as men, so they have to benefit from the same advantages at work,” she says. She calls on females to break with sexist prejudices. She encourages women journalist to show that they are capable.

In Burundian culture, women’s importance is minimized. Burundians consider that women are capable of some household chores that do not require much effort and reflection.

Jérome Ndikuriyo, Director General of Communication, said the number of women occupying posts such as Director or Chief Editor in media varies between 0% and 40%.

Women journalists are underestimated at work

Yvonne Munyaneza, a journalist at Radio Rema, accuses media officials of taking women as lazy and incapable of working. “I personally believe that I am able to do a good report on ground, even in Somalia. But I’m convinced my editor cannot trust me. He will say that women cannot do battlefield reporting, “she said. For her, these are prejudices that everyone should break with.

Fidélite Ishatse, a journalist at the Radio Voice of America, deplores the fact that the majority of Burundian journalists do not consider gender parity when reporting. “Rarely do I hear women express themselves in the media,” she says. She calls on journalists to interview both men and women.

Edouard Nimbona, Executive officer at the Iwacu newspaper, believes that women should not be discriminated in their media. “They are as intelligent and responsible as men,” he said.

However, he finds that in some activities and jobs, women need special treatment. He says Burundians’ mentality and culture require men not to expose the lives of women.

Fuel Shortage Persists in Bujumbura Despite Government’s Reassurance

By Bella Lucia Nininahazwe

Since late September, a fuel shortage is observed in Bujumbura city. The government has promised to find a solution since the beginning of October but to no avail.

Very few gas stations seem to rotate in giving fuel causing long queues of vehicles waiting to be served. Among ten visited stations, only three stations were distributing fuel this 12 October. Fuel users complain about this shortage which they say affects them seriously.

A taxi driver met at Nyabagere oil station in the northern part of the capital says this shortage mainly affects people who use public transport and appeal to the government to deal with the issue. “It seems that they are the only ones to be affected by this situation. We spend the whole day queuing for fuel. The owners of the vehicles want us to give payment daily while our customers want to pay what they used to pay… this causes trouble”, he says.

For public transport like motorcycles and taxis, the fares have increased. Users of public transport services complain about this increase but say they have no choice “Drivers tell us that they are obliged to give extra money so as to have the fuel. Others say they are obliged to wait a long time in the queue, which is true”, anonymously says a young girl met in the northern part of Bujumbura. She appeals to the government to solve this problem so as to avoid speculations.

From early October, the government promised that the fuel shortage which was observed in Bujumbura was to end soon. Asked about the current situation, the ministry of energy and mines gave us a further appointment.

Police agents were at the gas station to facilitate the distribution of fuel when Iwacu journalists arrived.

Burundi

Economic Growth in Sub-Saharan Africa Recovering At Modest Pace, Say World Bank Experts

The bi-annual analysis of the African economy conducted by the World Bank shows the economic growth in Sub-Saharan… Read more »

Forex Reserves Headache

By Moses Havyarimana

As Burundi grapples with a political crisis that has lasted almost two years now, a shortage of foreign currency is still a major concern for investors in the country.

Burundi imports almost 80 per cent of the manufactured goods it needs, hence the high demand of foreign currency.

“We can no longer pay our suppliers so they have stopped sending us goods. Although we have enough local currency, we obviously can’t use it to pay for imports,” said one Bujumbura businessman who imports construction materials.

Since August last year, traders have faced a shortage of foreign currency, a situation that has been blamed for a rise in inflation over several months now.

The central bank has continued to loosen its monetary policy in efforts to plug the widening fiscal deficit.

A black market is flourishing, with the exchange rate almost doubling the official rate. The dollar exchanges at Bif2,930 on the black market, against the official rate of Bif1,737.

Negative economic growth

The World Bank 2016 Report indicates that economic growth remains negative due to the fragile political environment.

Private consumption likely weakened following a contraction in food production due to climate shocks, a longer than expected lean season and forced migration.

Positive developments in the real estate sector included private investment growing in recent months as the consumer agro-industries and the cement industry found new domestic and external markets.

Meanwhile, Kenya and Tanzania have stepped up support for Burundi through trade exhibitions. Tanzania, for the first time, joined Kenya for a trade fair that ended two weeks ago.

“We are showing togetherness as East Africans and as Burundi looks to strengthen its relations with other East African countries,” said Burundi first vice president, Gaston Sindimwo.

Kenya exports more products to its EAC partner states than to any other part of the world. However, Tanzania and Kenya’s share of manufactured goods and services in Burundi have reduced since 2015.

As a consequence, the Tanzania-Kenya trade exhibition was designed to rekindle interest and offer opportunities for investments and partnerships between the countries.

Major Kenyan companies have already invested in Burundi including Kenya Commercial Bank, Jubilee Insurance, Safintra, Kobil and some universities.

The inflation rate in Burundi has remained moderate at six per cent, which is below the eight per cent convergence level agreed within the EAC’s regional integration arrangement.

Available estimates from the central bank, suggest that public debt is expected to exceed 45 per cent of gross domestic product.

Economic Growth in Sub-Saharan Africa Recovering At Modest Pace, Say World Bank Experts

Photo: Nadege K.Imbabazi/New Times

A view of the former Kiyovu cy’Abakene neighbourhood, that’s now part of the Central Business District. /

By Diane Uwimana

The bi-annual analysis of the African economy conducted by the World Bank shows the economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa is recovering at a modest pace and is projected to pick up to 2.4% in 2017 from 1.3% in 2016.

According to the 16th edition of the Africa’s Pulse, there are some factors that contributed to the economic growth, notably the rebound of the investment growth and the increase in capital assets.

“There was also renewal of confidence of investors in Africa”, says Albert Zeufack, World Bank Chief Economist for Africa. He also says South Africa and Nigeria contributed to 50% of the GDP in Africa.

He, however, says most countries do not have significant wiggle room when it comes to having enough fiscal space to cope with the economic volatility. “It is imperative that countries adopt appropriate fiscal policies and structural measures now to strengthen economic resilience, boost productivity, increase investment, and promote economic diversification,” he says.

The World Bank analysis has shown that rising capital accumulation has been accompanied by falling efficiency of investment spending in countries where economic growth has been less resilient to exogenous shocks.

Albert Zeufack says the economic growth in Burundi like other countries with fragile economy has been affected by the political instability. He says Burundi is going through a period of instability that is slowing down economic growth and weak performance due to the reduction of raw materials and internal political uncertainty or political uncertainty itself. “This creates uncertainty about investment and slows down growth”, he says.

The World Bank expert says it is important for countries to take the right policies to diversify the economy but also ensure that there is a good institutional policy.

The World Bank report reveals that the Sub-Saharan Africa is projected to see a moderate increase in economic activity, with growth rising to 3.2% in 2018 and 3.5% in 2019. The commodity prices firm and domestic demand gradually gains ground, helped by slowing inflation and monetary policy easing.

Burundi

If UN Is to Be Credible, It Must Act Before it’s Too Late

The Burundian government carries the primary responsibility for protecting its citizens from crimes against humanity,… Read more »

U.S.$25 Million Ifad Grant to Boost Burundi Financial Access

By Victor Kiprop

Burundi has signed a deal with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) that will see vulnerable groups including women and youth access financial services.

The project, dubbed Financial Inclusion in Burundi (PAIFAIR-B), will cost $28.6 million and targets more than 99,000 households in rural areas.

IFAD will provide $24.9 million in form of a grant, while Bujumbura and the beneficiaries will contribute the remaining amount.

The deal was signed in Rome recently by IFAD’s president Gilbert F Houngbo and Burundi’s Minister of Finance, Budget and Privatisation Phil Domitien Ndihokubwayo.

The PAIFAIR-B deal adds to the list of IFAD-funded rural development programmes in Burundi, where the United Nations agency has invested more than $230 million since 1979.

“The project will be rolled out in 17 provinces, and is designed to provide access to financial and other diversified services in order to foster the emergence of a wide range of income-generating enterprises in the agricultural and non-agricultural sectors,” IFAD said.

The demand for financial services in Burundi exceeds the supply, with the majority of agricultural entrepreneurs forced to turn to “loan sharks” who charge exorbitant interest rates of up to 1,000 per cent.

A 2014 report by the global partnership for Financial Inclusion notes that only 12.5 per cent of the country’s adult population have an account in a formal financial institution.

The study blamed the low financial inclusion in the country on lower incomes and financial education and barriers such as lack of motorised transport outside the city of Bujumbura.

Decades of civil wars coupled with a fragile political process and recurrent climatic shocks have slowed economic activity in Burundi, consistently keeping economic growth in the country at below five per cent between 2006 and 2016.

More than 400,000 people had fled the country as at mid-September, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), while at least three million Burundians — nearly a quarter of the country’s population — were in need of humanitarian assistance as at January this year.

Burundi

If UN Is to Be Credible, It Must Act Before it’s Too Late

The Burundian government carries the primary responsibility for protecting its citizens from crimes against humanity,… Read more »

More Than 413 Girls Forced Into Marriage in 2016

By Bella Lucia Nininahazwe

Burundian girls still suffer the consequences of forced marriage especially when they are pregnant before adult age, say civil activists on the occasion of the International Day of the Girl Child.

Following a study made by a local women’s NGO fighting against malaria and HIV/AIDS-SFBLSP from July to September 2017 in the Bujumbura northern neighbourhoods, girls are still forced into marriage by their parents and families.

Esperance Ntirampeba, SFBLSP chairwoman, says girls still suffer from non-access to education, child marriage and other discriminatory challenges. ” We conducted a small survey in July and the results revealed that around 27.5% of girls under 18 are forced into marriage while 6.8 % of girls under 15 suffer the consequences of early marriage”

David Ninganza, spokesman for Youth Solidarity for Peace and Childhood-SOJPAE, says early marriage in Burundi society is a threat to face. “More than 413 cases of forced marriage were recorded last year,” he says.

Those activists say those cases of early marriage are mostly influenced by teenagers’ unwanted pregnancies.

They appeal to the government to take serious measures to avoid such marriage as it harms the whole society.

Ntirampeba says the government should take appropriate laws to protect those girl children. “Parents who oblige their teenagers to get married should be seriously punished as well as adult people who are involved in the whole process”, she says.

Ntirampeba reminds parents that single mothers especially when they are adolescents have the right to better treatment and education like others. “It is not because an adolescent is pregnant that she has to be abandoned. Parents should still treat her well and take care of her”, she says.

The same view is shared by Ninganza. The Government should review some laws namely the law that stipulates that only pregnant mothers with marriage certificate should have access to free public healthcare. “Preventing them from having the same healthcare is unfair’, he says.

Burundi

If UN Is to Be Credible, It Must Act Before it’s Too Late

The Burundian government carries the primary responsibility for protecting its citizens from crimes against humanity,… Read more »

If UN Is to Be Credible, It Must Act Before it’s Too Late

Photo: HCR/Kate Holt

Des milliers de personnes ont fui le Burundi à cause de la violence et sont arrivées dans le camp de Mahama, au Rwanda

analysis

Geneva — The Burundian government carries the primary responsibility for protecting its citizens from crimes against humanity, but instead it’s the main abuser.

A UN Commission of Inquiry reported last month that the security forces, the intelligence service, and the ruling party militia bare the greatest guilt for two years of killings, torture, arbitrary arrest and detention, disappearances, and sexual violence in Burundi.

With the government unwilling to protect its population, it falls to the international community to provide that shield.

But although Burundi remains on the agenda of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva and the Security Council in New York, the reaction by the world body has so far been insufficient.

During the most recent session of the Human Rights Council last month, two resolutions on Burundi were adopted.

The first, led by the European Union, extended the mandate of the commission of inquiry – set up to investigate human rights abuses – for a further year. It received support from two African member states, Botswana and Rwanda.

The second resolution was a last-minute bid by the African Group, which sought to discredit and dismantle the panel of inquiry launched by the Human Rights Council in 2016.

It called for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to send three separate experts “to engage with the Burundian authorities and all other stakeholders”.

Burundi has promised to cooperate with those experts. But the likelihood they will have any real impact is in doubt given Burundi’s past refusal to cooperate with UN initiatives that seek an end to the crisis in the country, which pits President Pierre Nkurunziza against an opposition that claims his rule is illegal, and demands his ousting.

For example, in July 2016, the UN Security Council authorised 228 police officers to monitor the security situation. The resolution was an attempt to salvage the reputation of the Council, which needed to be seen as doing something. However, due to government opposition, the police officers were never able to deploy.

Following the outcome of the Human Rights Council meeting last month, it is unlikely that the Security Council will take strong action – such as targeted sanctions – despite Burundi rejecting its legally-binding resolutions.

In New York as in Geneva, Burundi remains one of the most divisive issues. Some Security Council members – primarily China, Russia, and Egypt – see the situation as an internal human rights affair rather than a peace and security issue.

The position of those who want the Security Council to be more engaged on human rights issues, led by the United States, is sharply opposed by those who want the Council to remain focused on more traditional security matters.

All members of the Security Council are waiting to take their cues from African states – primarily Burundi’s neighbours – Tanzania and Uganda.

Given the relatively strong African consensus in Geneva opposing what is characterised as outside interference, and the ongoing – although stalled – mediation efforts led by the East African Community, those members of the Security Council interested in stronger action are unlikely to push for that in the current climate.

Despite the new UN secretary-general’s focus on crisis prevention, the case of Burundi shows how difficult it is to implement prevention measures in specific cases.

The Human Rights Council has no way of enforcing decisions and relies on the cooperation of UN member states, including Burundi. The Security Council is unlikely to act until a situation has already spiralled out of control and threatens international peace and security.

On the ground, three scenarios could jolt the Security Council into action.

The first could be an escalation of attacks from outside Burundi, such as by the Democratic Republic of Congo-based rebel group, the Popular Forces of Burundi. The FPB’s leadership recently vowed to increase attacks. This would likely intensify the violence and could even lead to civil war in the long term.

The second scenario could centre around the more than 400,000 refugees in neighboring countries. Tanzania, which hosts almost 60 percent of fleeing Burundese, has already reached a deal with Burundi and the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, which will see the repatriation of almost 12,000 refugees, many of whom want to leave ill-equipped camps.

If the refugee flow does not stop, Tanzania may change course and ask the Security Council to do something.

A third scenario could see an intensification of internal division within the ruling party, which would likely see a deterioration of the security situation, especially if an attempt is made to prevent Nkurunziza from running for a fourth term.

All three of these scenarios would pose an even greater risk of mass atrocities. If the UN is serious about prevention, it must take credible action on Burundi now before it is too late.

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