How WFP Cash Transfers are Making a Difference to the Lives of Vulnerable People in Burundi

For years, the rains in Karusi province in Burundi have been below average. The insufficient rainfall has destroyed the livelihoods of people who mainly depend on agricultural production to provide for their families. WFP is implementing a food-for-assets project to boost the resilience of vulnerable people in Karusi and enable them to cope better with climatic shocks. The participants receive cash transfers which allow households to purchase food to meet their nutritional needs while they work on communal assets. Thanks to the support of the German Government, the project is targeting 1,630 of the most vulnerable households in the food-insecure communes of Bugenyuzi and Gitaramuka. 

Mamvita Liberata and her family live in Gitaramuka commune, Karusi province. A significant number of families living in the province are struggling to meet their food needs as a result of chronic rainfall shortages and widespread poverty. This has pushed vulnerable families into a food and nutrition crisis. 

WFP is implementing a food-for-assets project in Karusi to support vulnerable families like Liberata’s. The project is providing vocational training and supporting communities in creating or rehabilitating assets like feeder roads that connect to markets. Other activities include planting tree seedlings to restore areas that have suffered from deforestation. 

Individuals working on these projects receive cash transfers from WFP to enable them to buy food for their families while they are working or attending training. 

“Before this project, it was very hard for us to eat,” Liberata said. "Most of the time, we only had one meal a day. Only our little children could eat at night. Paying for health care and education for my seven children was a nightmare.”  

Vulnerable families diversify their livelihoods

Liberata learned how to sew and make soap as part of the vocational training. Upon completion of the training, she and others in her class received start-up kits from WFP for a small business. This enables vulnerable families to diversify their livelihoods, so that they are not dependent on income from agricultural production as the sole means of feeding their families.  

Trainees receive a cash allowance during this period. Liberata used her monthly cash allowance of BIF 40, 000 (around USD 28.16) to buy food, and saved some cash for small animal husbandry. Her participation in the village saving system, set up by World Vision, allowed her to buy two goats for a price of BIF 50,000 (USD 35.2) each. The system is a small fund set up by the community. Each member contributes a small amount on a monthly basis and they can borrow from the fund. 

Liberata now owns six goats, seven pigs, five chickens and three rabbits. She is confident in the future of her family. She is planning to sell two goats for a price of BIF 70,000 (USD 49.3) each, to further expand her business.

“This project is a divine gift to my family,” said Liberata. “The cash I am getting has improved our life. We can now have two meals a day, my children are now wearing good clothes. I can even afford slippers for them,” she added with a smile.

To date the project, which started in November 2015, has transferred USD 413,377 to the people targeted. The cash transfer will come to an end in three months’ time. There will also be a sensitization campaign to highlight the need for sustainability of assets created and rehabilitated.