Burundi, a small fragile country in the great lakes region

With 11 million inhabitants, Burundi is the third poorest country in the world. The Première Urgence Internationale teams are supporting the mother and child department of the hospital in Ngozi, in the north of the country.

santé materno-infantile

Mother and child health : a core concern

A baby is sleeping with his fists clenched, in a bed near a large window. He was taken to the hospital in Ngozi on his own this morning. Her mother died while she was giving birth at home. With more than six births per woman in the country, mother and child health is one of the major health concerns in Burundi. Women are most at risk during childbirth or if there are complications during and after pregnancy. The majority of deaths among children under 5 years takes place within 28 days of their birth. There are three main causes: complications with being premature, asphyxia during labour and birth and neonatal infections.

Improving access to care for mothers and newborn babies

Since the beginning of 2018, the Première Urgence Internationale teams have been offering support to the maternity and neonatal department of the hospital in Ngozi. Every day, 10 women give birth within this department. ‘We will provide equipment and help provide staff training on site. The idea is to improve access to care for mothers and newborn babies,’ says Louise Guillaumat, head of Emergencies at Première Urgence Internationale.

Santé materno-infantile au Burundi

Burundi facing climate hazards

In Burundi, which is ranked 184th out of 188 in the human development index (HDI), needs are significant. The highly vulnerable population faces problems accessing basic needs such as food, water, health and education. These difficulties are compounded by recurring peaks in their crises. These peaks are due to climatic hazards: floods, landslides, land degradation. The population, 90% of whom live in rural areas, are witnessing a decline in their means of livelihood, agriculture. As a result they feel forced to move. So there are 175 000 internally displaced people in the country, of which two thirds have left for climatic reasons.

Responding quickly 

According to the latest humanitarian response plan (HRP), 3.6 million people, or one third of the Burundian population, need humanitarian assistance.

As well as people displaced because of climatic problems, refugees from neighbouring countries are also taken in, in particular from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). There are 60,000 refugees in Burundi, living in four refugee camps and within the community. 43,000 Burundian refugees are also living outside the country. Tens of thousands of people plan to return during 2018. This makes Burundi a crucial area, bordered by Lake Tanganyika and four countries. The Première Urgence Internationale teams are ready to develop their response further in the area. ‘We are expecting influxes of refugees from the DRC. We must also allow for significant numbers of Burundian refugees to return in the coming months,’ explains Louise. ‘This small country in the great lakes region is in a very fragile situation. Its population is in a significantly vulnerable state. We must be ready to respond if there is an emergency.’

*Burundi is the third poorest country in the world by GDP/capita.

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