Burundians across the country, especially women and children, remain vulnerable to humanitarian crisis due to high levels of poverty. This precarious situation is compounded by natural disasters (i.e., floods, landslides and rainfall deficits), population movements, epidemics (e.g., cholera and peaks of malaria) and the risk that Ebola will spread into the country. Some 1.74 million people, including 976,200 children, are affected by the humanitarian crisis and the economic downturn, and will require humanitarian assistance in 2020. This includes some 60,000 children at risk of severe acute malnutrition (SAM). With the ongoing outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi is a priority 1 country for Ebola preparedness. While important progress has been made in 2019, critical gaps remain in ensuring Ebola prevention and adequate capacities to respond. Given that the two cholera epidemics of 2019 remain difficult to contain and malaria cases continue to spike, the health situation is worrying. In addition, 110,000 people are displaced inside the country, primarily due to natural disasters. The ongoing voluntary repatriation process within the tripartite agreement facilitated the return of 15,000 Burundians (57 per cent children) in 2019. The presidential elections scheduled for 2020 are expected to influence these dynamics.
In 2020, UNICEF will reinforce the resilience of systems and communities by increasing disaster risk reduction and emergency preparedness interventions and expanding multi-sectoral and integrated responses to reduce and mitigate the risks of and needs associated with population movement, health epidemics, natural disasters and malnutrition. In line with the national contingency plan, UNICEF will also target those in priority districts who are most vulnerable to the spillover of the Ebola outbreak with prevention and preparedness activities emphasizing water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), risk communication and community engagement, as per UNICEF's comparative advantage in Burundi. UNICEF will provide a package of gender-sensitive interventions comprising life-saving health services; malnutrition prevention and treatment; access to safe water and sanitation; hygiene promotion; and critical and risk-informed education and protection services. Efforts to meet the needs of people with disabilities in humanitarian response are currently limited but will be expanded in 2020. Communication for development will be mainstreamed across all sectors of intervention and mechanisms for engaging communities in social cohesion, risk reduction and improved access to basic services will be strengthened. As part of its coordination responsibilities, UNICEF will continue to lead the WASH, nutrition and education sectors and the child protection sub-group.
Results from 2019
As of 30 September 2019, UNICEF had US$7 million available against the US$10 million appeal (70 per cent funded). In 2019, UNICEF responded through an integrated package of interventions in the most affected provinces in Burundi, including areas affected by displacement, return and epidemics and health districts at risk of Ebola. As of September 2019, UNICEF had reached some 155,000 children with critical child protection services and provided essential therapeutic feeding treatment to more than 31,000 children suffering from SAM. The UNICEF WASH response continued to address current vulnerabilities and linked these efforts to longer-term resilience-building and preparedness activities, especially in cholera-prone areas and districts at risk of Ebola. Some 355,000 affected/at-risk people accessed safe and clean water with UNICEF support and 571,000 people received hygiene messages and key life-saving information. Despite limited funding, UNICEF and line ministries provided access to learning opportunities for some 29,000 school-aged children, including internally displaced and returnee children, and supplied the Government with stocks of essential drugs, including for malaria and cholera treatment, benefiting 70,000 persons. UNICEF reached 1.3 million people with key Ebola prevention messages and has continued its efforts in risk communication and community engagement to prepare for and respond to epidemics.6