Blog|Burundi|11 November 2022

Street Child's emergency response to child victims of climate change in Burundi


Jolien Van den Broeck

Burundi is a country in East Africa with 13 million inhabitants and is one of the poorest in the world, with 1.8 million people in need of humanitarian assistance. Currently, 84,791 people are internally displaced, 91% of them due to climatic disasters.[1]  


Increasingly, the rainy seasons in Burundi are becoming overwhelming, and the rains, so important for a country that depends on agriculture, often do more harm than good. In the last three years, rising water levels in Lake Tanganyika and the adjacent rivers have caused major flooding.


In Spring 2022, heavy rains hit Burundi.


The partial or total destruction of houses caused by the violent winds and destruction of crops following hail and wind, forced families to move, resulting in thousands of internally displaced people (IDP’s). The destruction of school buildings, loss of school materials and uniforms also led to an increase in the number of children dropping out of school. These children were faced with the disruption of their social activities and lacked a safe place and appropriate support to help them cope with the disaster. This increased the risk gender-based violence, violence against children, early marriages, child labour and child begging. Despite the huge needs, no one was able to support these children.


Given the imminent risks, Street Child together with its local partner Social Action for Development (S.A.D). decided to focus on these neglected communities.


Together we identified a total of 600 children in acute need. They were provided with school kits and school uniforms. In addition, four ‘listening points’ were set up to create a comfortable place for the children to express themselves, and to receive support. To respond to the issue of increased poverty, Street Child and S.A.D. accompanied and coached the families of these children to initiate solidarity groups. In these groups, members save and can access small credits to start income generating activities. These groups also serve as a meeting point for discussion, awareness raising and support community resilience.


However, more needs to be done. Burundi remains extremely vulnerable to climate change with serious consequences expected. The population remains insufficiently prepared to overcome such shocks. Extreme poverty, lack of resources and with most houses and buildings being built with mud bricks, people’s homes cannot withstand heavy rains and strong winds. Climate-related disasters aggravate poverty and its consequences on children's development. The school kits have helped children to reintegrate back into schools, but the conditions in which they study are unacceptable: classrooms have hardly enough desks, no latrines, lack of books, insufficiently trained teachers and poor quality buildings that risk collapsing with every storm.


This rapid response reached 600 children, but many more children are at risk. School enrolment remains low, with 1.9 million school-age children and adolescents still not in education.[2] Child protection remains a concern as 93,498 children do not have birth certificates, limiting their access to basic social services. Unfortunately, despite all these needs, Burundi is a 'forgotten crisis'. The low level of humanitarian funding for this crisis is very worrying: for 2021, financial support under the humanitarian response plan covered only 36.7% of the total required. [3]


Street Child and its local partners will continue to work to ensure every child in Burundi is safe, in school and learning. Street Child cannot do this without your support, to bring global attention to this forgotten crisis, and to reach thousands more children.





[1] IOM, Internal displacement Dashboard, Burundi, April 2022

[2] Humanitarian Action for Children, Burundi, UNICEF, December 2021,

[3] OCHA, Burundi Humanitarian Response Plan 2021 - Funding Overview, 28 February 2022