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The Republic of Burundi
is a land-locked country in central Africa, a little south of the Equator.
It shares borders with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania and
Rwanda. The population is approximately 6.4 million with a growth rate of
2.2%. Life expectancy at birth is only 46 years and there is an infant
mortality rate of 118 deaths/1,000 live births. The population is comprised
of three ethnic groups: the Hutu (85%) and the Tutsi (14%) and the Twa (1%).
Since the early 1990s intense ethnic violence between Hutu and Tutsi
factions has created hundreds of thousands of refugees and left tens of
thousands dead. Burundi has two official languages, Kirundi and French,
while Swahili is often used in the business sector. The dominant religion is
Christianity (67%) while a large minority still adhere to animist beliefs.
The government is a republic with legislative, executive and judicial branches and 16 administrative provinces. In the executive branch the president is both chief of state and head of government. The president is elected by directly by universal adult suffrage. There is a cabinet consisting of a Council of Ministers appointed by president. The legal system is based on German and Belgian civil codes and customary law. Following the coup of 1996 the Constitution was suspended and it wasnt until 1998 that a Transitional Constitution was installed. In August 2000 a peace agreement was signed between the warring factions which established power-sharing between the Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups.
Burundi is a resource-poor country with an underdeveloped manufacturing sector. The GDP from the 1980s to the 1990s fell from US$4.4m to US$-2.9m, primarily a result of the wide-spread ethnic violence. The GNP annual growth rate in 1998 was -0.5. During 1990-98, it was estimated that the GNP per capita decreased in real terms, by an average of 5.5% per year. During the same time period the population increased by 2.6% annually. The economy is predominantly agricultural with roughly 90% of the population dependent on subsistence agriculture, primarily cassava and sweet potatoes. Its economic health depends on the coffee crop, which accounts for 80% of foreign exchange earnings. Population displacement as a result of the political crisis has resulted in significant disruption of crop production and most commercial sectors. Economic sanctions imposed following the 1996 coup further affected production.
|Education is provide free of charge. Kirundi is the language of instruction in primary schools, while French is use din secondary schools. Primary education is compulsory and lasts for six years. Secondary education is optional and last for up to seven years. The UN Children's Fund estimated primary school attendance in 1996 at 48%. Only 7% of secondary aged students attended school, and only 4% of eligible girls. Less than 1% of the eligible population is attending colleges or universities. As of 1999, only 39% of women are literate and 55% of men are literate.|
The Burundian health
care system is rudimentary and medical facilities are limited even in the
cities. More than two million people have no access to formal health care.
There are very few doctors in rural areas and even in the cities the numbers
are inadequate. Before 1993 the health care system was doing fairly well.
Since the outbreak of internal conflict in 1993 the health care system has
deteriorated. Medical staff have been caught up in the internal conflict
and have, at times, been targets of ethnic violence. Mass displacements,
war, a deteriorating road system, and an international embargo have made
access to health care difficult if not impossible. There has been a
dangerous increase in malnutrition and life threatening diseases. The
refugee camps have been hit hard by infectious diseases. (9) In 2000 it
was reported that the health situation in the country had worsened
dramatically, while the resources allocated by the state to health had
declined around 70% since the beginning of the civil conflict in 1993.
Immunization rates are low, with only 44% of infants immunized against measles. With such large population displacements and movements this presents a serious danger. There are a number of endemic diseases that remain within the population: malaria, cholera, meningitis, tuberculosis, and hepatitis. The Maternal Mortality Ratio is high at 1,900 deaths/100,000 live births. Only approximately 50% of the population in 1990-96 had improved access to water and sanitation.
|Food & Diet|
Daily caloric intake is
a minimal 1,613 kcals with only 2.4% coming from an animal source. The main
staple is beans (20% of daily caloric intake) with sweet potatoes (18% of
daily caloric intake) coming in a close second. Cassava and maize are the
other main staples of the daily diet in Burundi. Only about 2.4% of total
daily caloric intake is through animal products, and this percentage has
been slowly decreasing through the years. Malnutrition has increased since
the onset of civil war in 1993. Approximately 43% of the under five
population is stunted and 9% of the population is wasted.
In 1992-98, 80% of households consumed iodized salt, nevertheless 42% of the population have goiters. There is no iron fortification of foods, and anemia prevalence is unknown. However, there is federal iron supplementation program for pregnant women which started in 2000. Children and lactating women receive Vitamin A supplements through the Ministry of Health but there is no Vitamin A deficiency prevalence data.
10. Europa World Year Book 2001, 42nd edition, 1st volume