Refugees in Burundi

Evaluation of data from the 2019-2020 Burundi Socioeconomic survey jointly implemented by UNHCR and the World Bank forms the basis of a socioeconomic profile of refugees in Burundi.

13 Jul, 2023

Overall objectives

The goal of this activity is to fill critical data gaps and inform decision making. This will involve continuous discussions with the government, the World Bank Country Management Unit and project teams to ensure evidence produced will inform relevant interventions and fill relevant knowledge gaps. This would entail involvement of all parties along the process, from questionnaire design revision to pre-dissemination of results with government in internal working groups, following World Bank Country Management Unit guidance. Similar discussions will be held with Task Team Leads preparing the Prevention and Resilience Allocation, the Risk and Resilience Allocation, the IDA19 Host Communities and Refugees Window, as well as several projects in the Window for Host and Refugees portfolio.

Activity description

The program will fill critical data gaps through primary data collection in Burundi, and create an evidence base for decision making – to the Government of Burundi, and the World Bank Country Management Unit – to improve welfare of the forcibly displaced and host communities. Particular emphasis will be on processes that build local capacity through partnerships with local research organizations.

1 – Report and dissemination of the results of the recently completed WB-UNHCR Socio-Economic Survey presenting information on non-monetary welfare of the refugee population in urban areas and across the different camps of the country.

With guidance from the Government of Burundi, the activity above will be developed into one of the following:

2a – Scale up of Activity 1 into a full-fledged survey on forced displacement in Burundi which is fully comparable with the ongoing national household survey Enquête sur les Conditions de Vies des Ménages (EICVMB) and that will cover refugees (in camps and urban areas) and respective host communities.

2b – Following agreements between Tanzania and Burundi in late 2019, Burundians are encouraged to return “home”. Returnees are transported over the border and repatriated into families or they create spontaneous sites. The goal – in collaboration with UNCHR – is to use phone surveys to reach these populations to better understand their welfare across time and in comparison to the host population.

Engagement with partners

Most activities will be carried out in close collaboration with UNHCR – and possibly other relevant organizations. Design and preparation, including at what frequency data should be collected, will be discussed with all partners.  Collaboration with UNHCR is actively sought out to ensure that not only government and WB projects will be informed by this work but that it is also used for relevant UNHCR programming serving forcibly displaced populations, as well as integrating important expertise and feedback of UNHCR colleagues.

Background and Context

Situations of conflict and fragility require agility in decision making, which is most effective in the presence of up-to-date information. In Burundi, conflict and fragility inside and outside state borders have contributed to forced displacement. Forced displacement in Burundi encompasses refugees from Eastern DRC, those who have been internally displaced, and large inflows of returnees from Tanzania and Rwanda. Currently, there is little systematic data collection on the welfare of these populations that could support the Government of Burundi or humanitarian and development partners in their programming and decision making. Additionally, and in response to the country’s needs, several World Bank-financed projects and allocations ambitiously seek to cover both, including host and forcibly displaced populations. With relevant data on the forcibly displaced collected and analytics produced, the Government of Burundi and aforementioned projects and allocations would have important information at their disposal to facilitate programming decisions.

In a situation of political instability and continuous economic shocks, Burundi hosts diverse displaced populations including internally displaced people, asylum seekers, refugees and also Burundian refugees returning mainly from Tanzania, but also Rwanda. As many as 200,000 are expected to return to Burundi from Tanzania alone. Additionally, nearly 80,700 Burundians were internally displaced throughout 2020, largely due to floods and climate-change. More than 9 in 10 refugees in Burundi come from DRC and fled violence and armed conflict in South or North Kivu. As the situation remains volatile in the North and South Kivu Provinces of the DRC, more refugee inflows are expected.

While Burundi has made important progress in producing socioeconomic data of its population, refugee communities have remained underrepresented. Burundi’s efforts in producing national socioeconomic statistics have translated in the 2013/14 Enquête sur les Conditions de Vie des Ménages au Burundi (ECVMB) which allowed for the estimation of poverty and other socioeconomic indicators. However, forcibly displaced populations have not been included in national data collection efforts thus far—including not being representative or being totally absent from the ECVMB 2020/21. Yet, forced displacement is pervasive in Burundi and is expected to increase with the future influx of Burundian returnees from Rwanda and Tanzania. And, operations are set to respond by including forcibly displaced populations in different projects across the portfolio. Therefore, it is crucial to generate socioeconomic data on refugees to understand their living conditions, help address their needs and leverage their capabilities.


For further details on this activity, please contact:

Jeffery Tanner –  [email protected]

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