Burundi: EU funding helps farmers adapt to a changing climate

World Food Programme Insight
3 min readJun 30, 2023


Overflow from the Musasa River floods nearby farmland in Rutana Province. Photo: WFP/Irenee Nduwayezu

By Christine Coudour and Irenee Nduwayezu

Farming is Mukeshimana’s only means of feeding her nine children. She grows maize, beans, rice and vegetables on her half-acre farm in the Rutana Province of south-east Burundi. However, in recent years, more intense rainfall has led to flooding, landslides and powerful winds, making it harder for farmers to grow enough food to feed their families.

“The land became impossible to cultivate because of the stones, pebbles and sand that poured into the fields when the river flooded,” says Mukeshimana. “Families would leave their homes and land to seek refuge and assistance in camps.”

More than 85 percent of Burundi’s population are engaged in subsistence farming. But food insecurity levels in the country are alarming with nearly 56 percent of children under 5 stunted and even higher levels of malnutrition among rural communities.

Poverty, rapid population growth, vulnerability to weather-related disasters and poor access to basic services such as health and education are some of the reasons for these grim statistics.

EU funding enables farmers like Mukeshimana to anticipate and prepare for climate extremes such as flooding. Photo: WFP/Irenee Nduwayezu

Today, Mukeshimana and her children are part of a programme funded by the European Union Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (DG ECHO) and implemented by the World Food Programme (WFP) aimed at building the capacities of 3,200 families (16,000 people) to withstand climate shocks such as flooding through cash assistance and emergency preparedness.

The programme is implemented in two of the country’s most at-risk provinces; Rutana — where flooding from the Musasa river destroys crops and seeds, and Rumonge — where rising water levels from Lake Tanganyika threaten people’s homes and livelihoods.

The cash is provided in advance of anticipated weather-related disasters and helps farmers to prepare by enabling them to buy farming equipment, clear riverbeds, plant fixative grasses, engage in reforestation and fortify their homes.

“We can now prepare ourselves and minimize the impact of flooding in our community,” says Mukeshimana.

Families affected by climate extremes such as droughts and floods are supported with cash transfers and emergency preparedness. Photo: WFP/Irenee Nduwayezu

The programme has enabled 80 percent of vulnerable families in Rutana (including Mukeshimana’s family) to relocate their farming activities to higher ground and 74 percent of families in Rumonge to strengthen their homes against the impact of heavy rainfall and flooding.

Across Burundi, WFP’s resilience-building and emergency preparedness programmes are critical for communities whose food security and livelihoods are affected by the effects of climatic and socio-economic shocks. Funding from donors like the EU remains vital in the fight against climate extremes.