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WFP Says Two Million Burundians Need Emergency Food Aid This Year

The United Nations says two million people in Burundi will need emergency food aid this year. That’s a 40 percent increase over last year. The food shortages come as Burundi takes steps toward peace, including a recent vote on a new constitution.

Caroline Hurford is a spokesperson for the World Food Program. From Rome, she told English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua why the food situation in Burundi has worsened.

She says, “The main reason is the fact that the harvests have been so poor, even the areas which are normally associated as being Burundi’s food basket, in the north, northeast and central provinces. They’ve had a drastic reduction in their yield, particularly the staples, the maize and the beans. So WFP really does have to step in in order to avoid severe shortages. Several factors have contributed to the problem.

Ms. Hurford says, “It’s not only weather. The food shortages, of course, have been caused by the disease and maybe the fact that the rainfall hasn’t been quite as good as it should have been. But of course…the country has been racked by civil war for more than ten years. And so people just haven’t been able to farm in the normal way.”

The United Nations says, “Sixteen percent of Burundi’s population of seven-point-six million people are chronically short of food, while sixty-eight percent live on the brink of chronic food shortages.”