Burundi’s economy is dominated by small-scale agriculture practiced on the slopes of hills and mountains. The burgeoning population and an overwhelming reliance on natural resources by 90 percent of the population have both caused aggravated environmental degradation. The recent World Bank Country Environment Analysis estimates that each year, almost 38 million tons of soil is lost and land degradation cost 4% of the country’s GDP. Soil erosion worsens Burundi’s socioeconomic situation, and particularly affects the poorest. Investing inland restoration is greatly needed, as infrastructure or agricultural projects relying on fragile lands cannot fully succeed without it.
Addressing this degradation challenge, on April 11, 2018 – The World Bank approved a US$30 million Landscape Restoration and Resilience Project, an IDA grant to support the Government of Burundi’s efforts to restore the landscape. The objective of the project is to restore land productivity in targeted degraded landscapes.
The project will use a community‐led landscape approach— an integrated approach to sustainably manage land and water resources for multiple purposes and functions. Managing natural resources in an integrated way across different land uses and connecting them at the landscape level (colline, watershed) provides the basis for addressing trade‐offs and enhancing people’s livelihoods, security, and resilience to climate variability and change. To successfully implement this approach, the project will support policy development and capacity building in support of planning and implementing a landscape approach across economic sectors by focusing on development challenges at the right scale and by minimizing trade‐offs and reaping more value from existing resources.
The project will engage the smallholder farmers living in the Bujumbura Rural and Muyinga Provinces. It is expected that at least 80,820 small producer households, 51 percent of which are women, will directly benefit from project interventions. The project will support and mobilize community‐based groups and farmers’ groups, provide related smallholder farmers with training, technical, investment support, and inputs to enable the uptake of innovative land restoration/management technologies at scale.
The project builds on the successfully executed Government- World Bank- GEF $ 4.2 M Sustainable Coffee Landscape Project, winner of the prestigious Buffer Award of National Geographic, which established the promotion of shade grown coffee to specifically address land degradation in coffee landscapes, and to work with indigenous people around the forest reserve of Bururi.
To make a difference, we must use a holistic landscape approach that makes ecosystems more resilient while transforming communities’ livelihoods and bringing peace and prosperity,” says Paola Agostini, Global Lead for Forests, Landscapes and Ecosystems at the World Bank.