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UNICEF Burundi Humanitarian Situation Report No. 1 - Reporting Period: 01 January to 31 March 2020

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Date de publication


• Since the beginning of the year, Burundi has experienced a new outbreak of cholera, high numbers of cases of malaria and measles as well as episodes of heavy rains and violent winds causing significant human and material damages.

• UNICEF and its partners have continued to make significant efforts to meet the multidimensional needs of people affected by natural disasters, displacement and those affected and at risk of epidemics.

• 38,820 persons in cholera hotspots and Ebola high-risk areas were reached with key messages on hygiene practices. Emergency kits for cholera and measles care management have been made available to the Ministry of Health and partners to respond to the high numbers of cases.

• On March 31st, Burundi reported its first two cases of COVID-19. A National contingency plan has been developed by the Ministry of Health (MoH) and its partners.

• As of the first quarter of 2020, UNICEF has mobilized 28 per cent of the 2020 Humanitarian Action for Children (HAC) funding to respond to the most essential needs of children and women in Burundi.

Funding Overview and Partnerships

UNICEF’s appeal for Burundi stands at US$ 16.5M to sustain the provision of life-saving services for women and children affected by a humanitarian crisis, for which 28% has been mobilised on 31 March.
Through the support provided by the Governments of Japan and of the United Kingdom (DFID), WASH and health teams have been able to deploy emergency response - which will last until the second half of this year - to the cholera and malaria epidemics. The US and the German National committees for UNICEF have responded to the urgent appeal for assistance in January for those affected by the heavy rains and floods in Bujumbura and other provinces. The US Agency for International Development (USAID) continued its support for the fight against child malnutrition and together with DFID extended assistance to prepare for the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) epidemic in the format of a consortium with other UN sister agencies with UNICEF designated as the lead agency. The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), one of UNICEF's key humanitarian partners in Burundi, has reiterated its support in 2020 to respond to urgent crises affecting children and their families by enabling multidisciplinary assistance. UNICEF expresses its sincere gratitude to all public and private donors for the contributions received this year as well as in 2019 and carried forward in 2020.
Despite the results achieved in this first quarter, critical gaps remain today, with 72% still unfunded, more specifically in the sectors of WASH, Child Protection and Education to be able to ensure an adequate response to people affected by recurrent floods, ongoing epidemics and those returning to Burundi. In addition to the tremendous challenge of COVID prevention and response, basic essential services must continue for families affected by other emergencies. As the Ebola epidemic is not over in the DRC, efforts which will also serve for COVID-19 prevention and response and cholera response, must be maintained in Burundi. Support and assistance for returnees must continue to ensure their full reintegration into their communities. The country is not immune to more natural disasters, especially floods and mudflows, causing damages and displacement. UNICEF will need to work with partners, and as sector lead in some instances, to respond with timely WASH, Education, Protection, Health and Nutrition interventions.

Situation Overview & Humanitarian Needs

The year 2020 began with severe weather events causing human and material damage in the capital and North western provinces of Burundi. On the night of 28-29 January alone, heavy rainfall resulted in floods causing deaths, injuries and the displacement of 11,000 people who have seen their shelters damaged/destroyed, have lost their source of income and have seen their access to basic services deteriorated.

The epidemic situation in the country remains worrying, with high cases of malaria, measles and a new episode of cholera (46 cases for the 1st quarter) declared in January. The emergence of cases of ulcerative wound particularly affecting children in the provinces of Muyinga, Muramvya and Mwaro have mobilized the Ministry of Health and its partners to respond to this, as yet, unknown disease.

On March 31st, Burundi reported its two first cases of COVID-19. The contingency plan prepared by the MoH with the support of its partners builds on the experience and actions already carried out in the framework of the Ebola preparedness. One of the major challenges of this pandemic in Burundi will be to maintain and strengthen access to essential services for the population in parallel with the medical response provided to those affected.