Burundi is a landlocked country in the Great Lakes region with an area of 27,834 km². It is the second most densely populated African country (about 11.18 million inhabitants and 470 inhabitants/km²), and one of the five poorest countries in the world.
Burundi recent history is characterized by inter-ethnical and inter-party political struggles for power. Burundi ranks 180th out of 186 countries according to the Human Development Index of the World Bank in 2015.
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Since its independence in 1962, Burundi has experienced great political instability and numerous episodes of violence.
From 1993, the country was engulfed in a long civil war, which lasted until 2003. Since then, the country has experienced relative stability that has fostered an economic recovery and resulted in positive growth rates during recently (3.9% in 2010).
However, the Burundian formal economy is very weak and generates few jobs. The economy is largely dependent on subsistence agriculture, which engages 90% of the population and produces only about 40% of GDP. The population growth has a major impact on natural resources, especially regarding land scarcity, which causes a series of social divisions and struggles within families over land inheritance.
ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT - FOOD SECURITY
ICCO is implementing the Microfinance, Agri-finance and Value Chains (MAVC), from 2014 to 2019. The project is implemented and co-financed by ICCO and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
The MAVC project aims to increase the income and food security of 150,000 households through better access to rural microfinance and an integrated approach to development and value chain financing.
￼The MAVC program works with smallholder farmers, mainly focusing on women and youth, and with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that can be connected to business incubation centers such as BBIN-SPARK or ICCO Investments.
Using the Markets System Development approach, MAVC aims at influencing the market systems so they can work more effectively and sustainably for the marginalized rural poor farmers, in order for them to improve their livelihoods and consequently reduce poverty.
The project is focusing on the banana, cassava, potato and rice value chains.
Securing sustainable livelihoods can only be achieved through well-functioning markets. ICCO’s approach works with diversifying funding instruments and services to trigger changes in the market system that benefit the poor.