In the midst of a bloody civil war, in 2002 AVSI arrived in Cibitoke, one of the seven Northern districts in the suburbs of Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi, and established the MOE Community Center for children, mothers and war orphans (Mamans, Orphelins e Enfants). The center started its work during a period of partial post conflict (the civil war lasted from 1993-2005), characterized by great urban decay, with high levels of overpopulation due to the great influx of Burundian refugees who, time and again, flooded into the capital as they fled from ethnic cleansing. This great movement of people and general insecurity at the family, community and national level caused a complete breakdown of family, social and community infrastructure, a situation that was worsened by the inadequate health, education and social psychological assistance networks needed to treat a severely traumatized population. In fact the country remains at a ranking of 166th in the world in terms of the Human Development Index. The MEO center was founded to meet the need for a shared protected place for children and mothers, in an attempt to provide a tangible response to the emergencies and demands of the area in terms of food, health assistance, education and psychological aid. Over the years, AVSI’s presence in Burundi expanded in the social and educational sector into other regions, in the child protection sector, and in 2007 AVSI also began agricultural and food security projects to face ongoing challenges of the communities where it is working.
Through its Distance Support Program (DSP), AVSI supports 1,400 children and their families in Burundi, focusing on those associated with the MEO Center and various schools in the provinces of Kayanza and Ngozi. All of AVSI’s activities are integrated with the services provided by the DSP.
Through projects funded by the European Union and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and in collaboration with the Burundi Ministry of Education, AVSI is working to construct new or rehabilitate old primary school classrooms and also to train primary school educators. Infrastructure improvements for over 50 classrooms in 24 schools, also including improved sanitation, have been completed. Also, a project in Kayanza province has so far successfully trained 644 teachers, 35 directors and 7 Inspectors in the "Risk of Education" course.
Connected to and developed based on AVSI’s experience in education is project for the protection of orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) currently being implemented by a consortium of NGOs led by AVSI. This project is funded by UNICEF/Child Protection Division and it aims to assist 1,000 orphans and other vulnerable children in the Campazi area of Muruta in Kayanza Province. The project offers integrated services and activities including provision of health care, education, psychosocial and legal assistance, Income-Generating Activities, and vocational training.
AVSI’s food security and agriculture began in 2007, and included a first project implemented by a Consortium of Italian NGOs to strengthen agro-pastoral activities. In a related project funded by the Italian Government, AVSI achieved the distribution of agricultural inputs to 1100 vulnerable households and training in technical and agro-pastoral techniques for 1,100 farmers and 8 mills installed in 5 parishes of the province of Kayanza and Ngozi. AVSI has also participated as leader of a consortium in a European Union project under the “Food Facility” framework. An ongoing project focuses on reinforcing the capacities of two local producers’ associations, CASOBU and CICSAA.
AVSI Burundi has its main office in Bujumbura, with another base in Kayanza Province and 4 satellite offices in the communes of Muruta, Matongo, Kabarore and Kayanza. AVSI works with local partners CASOBU, CICSAA, and Twitezimbere. Institutional donors include UNICEF, the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the European Union.
Location: Kayanza e Ngozi
Description: Continuation of program of trainings on agricultural and livestock production, which focuses on reinforcing the capacity of two local producers’ associations.
Duration: 2011 - 2013
Donor Partner: Milan Municipality, Italy
Implementing Partners: CASOBU e CICSAA
"Promoting the living conditions and improvement of rural population in the communes of Matongo, Muruta, Kabarore & Busiga through interventions in the education sector"
Location: Kayanza and Ngozi Provinces
Description: Rehabilitation of 42 primary classrooms, construction of 11 classrooms and 14 sanitary facilities and strengthening of educational activities in 24 schools with parent and community association involvement. Formation of 12 new local associations, capacity building of staff and training and professional development classes for primary and secondary teachers. Support (school fees, uniforms, etc.) for 700 impoverished students and 500 vulnerable families, with adult literacy courses for those above schooling age.
Duration: 2009 - 2012
Implementing Partner: Burundi Ministry of Education
“Improving the quality of life and development capacity of vulnerable households by strengthening the system of primary education”
Location: Kayanza and Ngozi Provinces
Description: Improvement of educational system through infrastructure improvements and teacher trainings for primary teachers.
Duration: 2008 - 2011
Distance Support Program "Our Valuable Children"
Location: Kayanza, Ngozi, Bujumbura
Description: Long-term support to over 1400 children and adolescents (983 in the province of Kayanza and Ngozi and 417 in the northern area of Bujumbura), improving the conditions for psychosocial and academic progress, while strengthening the capacity of the children’s families, caretakers and local organizations to respond to their needs. Fulfillment of school requirements (uniforms, books, fees etc.), nutrition activities through the MEO Lina Lava center, training and distribution of kits for agricultural activities to support households in rural areas and micro-credit enterprises in urban contexts to improve the food security and economic stability of the child’s family.
Duration: 2002 - present
“Protection and global care of 1,000 orphans and other vulnerable children infected or affected by HIV/AIDS Site Campazi, Muruta, in Kayanza Province”
Description: Educational and psychosocial support for 1,000 orphans and other vulnerable children in families or households affected by HIV/AIDS.
"Prompt response to soaring food prices in 8 provinces in Burundi through the strengthening the agricultural productive capacity and rural forms of aggregation support to boost the primary sector and marketing"
Location: Kayanza and Ngozi
Description: Integrated in European Union’s Food Facility framework includes support to improve agricultural and livestock production for individuals and households through training and distribution of agricultural inputs.
Publication: MEO Centre is featured in: The family, a beauty to be conquered once again
November 17, 2011 IlSussidiario.net: The Story of Elie