In South Burundi, A Food for Training Project Gives Hope To Returnees

In 2014, WFP-Burundi continued to support the reintegration of Burundian returnees in their communities. This was done through food-for-assets and food-for-training activities bringing together host communities and former refugees returning to Burundi from neighboring countries. In Makamba, a province in eastern Burundi with a high concentration of returnees, people who participated in a WFP food-for-training project can now earn a living.

Anastine Niyokwera, 20 years of age, shows remarkable agility when she is sewing. Just a year after learning how to sew through a food-for-training project initiated by WFP, she can now earn her own living and provide for her family.

Anastine is a returnee, the fourth child of a family of seven. Before she returned to Burundi from Tanzania in 2010, she had been a sixth-year primary school student in Mtabila refugee camp in Tanzania, where she lived. After coming back to her home country, she was downgraded to second year. It was very difficult for her to accept.

“I almost got depressed because of this decision, which, it seems, was motivated by my lack of French proficiency,” she said.

New Skills
One Sunday, Anastine went to church. Towards the end of the mass, she heard an announcement that invited poor families to register their young adult with CONSEDI, a local NGO and WFP partner, for handicrafts training.

"I did not hesitate a second," Anastine says. WFP provided food during the three-month training to enable students to concentrate on learning without having to worry about earning money to buy food.

Anastine chose to study sewing. It was a skill she knew nothing about when she joined four other girls at the Garukundabe sewing workshop.

"The boss began by showing me how to take the measurements, how to design a simple skirt. As I got skilled, I gained trust of my boss to the point that he began entrusting me with clients’ orders,” she says proudly. “I came to the point where he could give me a tall order."

She also learned about setting up a cooperative and opening and managing a bank account.

Proudly Earning A Living
Today, with the training and the equipment provided by WFP, Anastine earns enough money to meet her everyday life needs.

"A simple skirt is about 5,000 Burundi francs (US$3). With four or five orders per month, I also provide food for my family," she explains

The WFP food-for-training project in her village has benefitted 129 vulnerable people, mainly returnees, and their families.

"We are really grateful for this assistance. It is very important for young people, especially returnees, that WFP continues to support us," she added with a smile.