There is a famous Burundian proverb, "Where there is love there is no darkness."
Beautiful as it is, this country has over a century-long history covered in darkness. Mothers are crying, and children go hungry in this land of love. This poses the existential question: What is really wrong with Burundi?
A bit of background: Burundi is a landlocked country located in east-central Africa. Although the majority community in the country is Hutu, an agricultural community, it is primarily ruled by the Tutsi clan. Despite the close ties between the groups, the land has been plagued by internal conflict, severe poverty, and political imbalance. Burundi ranked 185th out of 189 countries in the 2019 Human Development Index, making it one of the world's poorest nations.
Not only this, but essential services also come at a high cost to the people.Even in the harvesting period, households spend around two-thirds of their money on food when food is abundant. This is primarily because of the lack of domestic agricultural production. In fact, Burundi's entire food production is only enough to feed a person for 55 days in a year.
Additionally, Burundi has been engulfed in political warfare for the past 26 years. When Burundi's first president was shot, it sparked widespread ethnic bloodshed. During the civil war that concluded in 2005, over 200,000 Burundians were massacred.
Not only that, but Burundi is also Africa's most densely populated country. The population density is 248 people per square mile and increases at about 3% per year. Thus, the amount of land available for everyone is significantly less.
As a result, Burundi has one of the highest malnutrition rates, with 52% of children under age 5 being chronically malnourished. This leads to health concerns such as kwashiorkor and other eating disorders. It has consistently ranked either dead last or in the bottom five of the World Happiness Report list.
Volatile living conditions lead to untreated depression and other mental health problems. Because the population is subject to extreme poverty, they turn to child labour and sex trafficking to earn. Many teenage girls are sent to surrounding African countries each year. In another violation of human rights, the President of Burundi criminalised many fundamental rights, such as jogging in a group and legalised crimes such as child labour. Due to the nation's history of dictator rulers, they have limited access to any social networking. Only about 3% of the population has internet access.
Burundi is known for its violence and poverty, not its magnificent flora and fauna and pleasant weather. Although Burundi shows some improvement, such as increased life expectancy, it is still plagued by acute poverty and political insecurity. Most children don't have access to basic facilities like clean water, food, and education.
However, there is hope for Burundi. The land has vast potential to improve. If its tourism industry is funded, organised, and promoted systematically, it can improve life for the poor. UN intervention to help establish a secure government is also necessary. The Burundi people can regain their land of love and live a peaceful life. Help them.