Returning Home after Civil War: Food Security and Nutrition among Burundian Households

Philip Verwimp and Juan Carlos Muñoz-Mora

The Journal of Development Studies, Volume 54, Issue 6 (2018), Pages 1019-1040


This paper investigates the food security and nutritional status of formerly displaced households (HHs) after return to Burundi, and tests whether it is the duration of displacement that matters for current welfare (divergence process) or the time lapsed since returning (convergence process). The authors use the 2006 Core Welfare Indicator Survey for Burundi to compare calorie intake and level of food expenses of various categories of formerly displaced households with those of their non-displaced neighbors. Key findings:

  • IDPs who returned home just before the time of the survey are worse off compared to IDPs who returned several years earlier.
  • On average, returned IDPs have 5 percent lower food expenses and 6 percent lower calorie intake compared with the average Burundian household.
  • The authors find evidence in favor of the divergence argument, but not for the convergence argument. For every two years that the HH was absent, the calorie-intake as well as the food expenses decreases by 1 percent with respect to the average HH. On average, returned IDPs had 13 percent less expenses on food and 10 percent less calorie intake than those HHs who were never displaced.
  • The negative effect of displacement has long-term consequences, because years after returning home the effect is not cancelled out.

A longer duration of displacement has been shown to make it harder to re-adapt and earn a living, thus reducing household welfare.