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CRS in Burundi

Years of civil war, land shortages, high fertility rates, insufficient agricultural production and the return of Burundian refugees have placed Burundi near the bottom of the UN Human Development Index, ranking 180 out of 187 countries. However, there is great potential for Burundi's development. 

Catholic Relief Services continues to help Burundians rebuild their lives after years of civil war. Burundi, the second most densely populated country in Africa, has experienced recurrent periods of violence since its independence in 1962. As Burundi moves toward peace and democracy, CRS has worked hand in hand with Burundians in areas such as agriculture, access to safe and nutritious food, microfinance, peacebuilding and health, including HIV.


People served: 12,438

Population: 11,466,756

Size: 10,747 sq mi; about the size of Maryland

CRS' History in Burundi

Catholic Relief Services opened its Burundi office in 1961 to address the influx of 160,000 refugees from present-day Rwanda. In 1962, operations were expanded to include maternal and child health and social welfare. In 1986, CRS shifted its activities toward long-term sustainable development in the areas of agriculture, health (including HIV and AIDS), microfinance, and peace and justice.

When war broke out in 1993, CRS addressed emergency needs while continuing development projects. The signing of the Arusha Accords in 2000 and democratic elections in 2005 and 2010 has brought a period of sustained peace. In this context, CRS and our partners have transitioned from emergency response to post-conflict recovery and development. However, issues related to chronic malnutrition, land conflict and social exclusion continue to negatively impact Burundi’s longer-term socio-economic development.