Located in East Central Africa, Burundi is one of the hungriest countries in the world (Global Hunger Index). Out of a population of nearly 8 million, more than 90% depend on agriculture for a living, and around 1.5 million people are estimated to be food insecure.

This is a story about Generosa. She lives in Bujumbura, Burundi, and like 90% of Burundi’s population, her family relies on agriculture for a living. Generosa lost three children all under 5 years old; due to sickness, and her husband also died in 1994. 

“He was a diabetic, but with our poverty, we were unable to take care of him and I think he died because of that.”

Living in poverty means that Generosa’s husband was unable to follow their doctor’s recommendations as their diet was poor and they couldn’t afford health insurance.

Today, Generosa lives with 5 family members who are all dependent on her for food. Her daughter, Grace, had her own child at only 13 years old. Generosa’s nephew, Anyisa, is an orphan. Both Grace and Anyisa dropped out of primary school simply because they were unable to afford materials like school uniforms. Grace and Anyisa suffered from their family’s poverty; their lack of education means that their futures could be limited.

To support her family, Generosa hired 2 small pieces of land and bought a goat for manure , this was not sufficient for her family to survive because the soil is so infertile; in fact, they only ate once a day and lacked a varied diet. Generosa was unable to grow vegetables because she didn’t know how and because of this, she often went without any food so that the rest of her family wouldn’t go hungry. On top of their poor diet, their latrine was poorly built and exposed, thus facilitating the spread of germs.

“I am worried about my capacity to feed my family”

The local infrastructure is poor too: their water facilities are so unreliable that sometimes Generosa has to walk for 3 hours to get clean water. This means that irrigating crops would also be difficult. Other problems she faces include malaria and a lack of financial support.
Life doesn’t have to be like this for Generosa and many like her in Burundi. There is hope. Send a Cow have helped make a difference but there is still a lot more to learn and plenty more families that need help. We visited Generosa in June 2014 to see how she was getting on after 6 months with Send a Cow.

“Since we started working with SAC, I got new skills and knowledge on how I can do things differently, especially on how to grow vegetables at home.”

Generosa has also built an energy saving stove, which reduces her consumption of fuel wood and reduces the amount of smoke produced, thus improving her health.

“If I continue to benefit further training, and other support from SAC, I really hope that this will help me to work differently and get out of poverty.”

We need to continue our work with Generosa, her group and other communities alike, so that they can be able to address their hunger, nutrition and poverty issues, as well as building their capacities to meet their families’ needs in sustainable way.