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Burundi is part of:
Africa · Eastern Africa ·
Water Basins of Burundi:
Congo-Zaire · Nile ·
Facts & Figures edit
Capital Bujumbura
Neighbouring Countries Congo, Rwanda, Tanzania
Total Area 27,830 km2
  - Water 2,180 km2 (7.83%) / 783 m2/ha
  - Land 25,650 km2
Coastline 0 km
Population 7,547,515 (271 inhab./km2)
HDIA 0.382 (2007)
Gini CoefficientA 42.4 (1995)
Nominal GDPB $903 million
GDP (PPP) Per CapitaB $400
Land UseC
  - Cultivated Land 12,489 km2 (48.69%)
     - Arable 9,124 km2 (35.57%)
     - Permanent Crops 3,365 km2 (13.12%)
     - Irrigated 210 km2
  - Non cultivated 1,223,691 km2 (51.31%)
Average Annual RainfallD 1274 mm
Renewable Water ResourcesE 3.6 km3
Water WithdrawalsF 0.288 km3/yr
  - For Agricultural Use 77%
  - For Domestic Use 17%
  - For Industrial Use 6%
  - Per Capita 44 m3
Population with safe access to
  - Improved Water Source 79%
     - Urban population 92%
     - Rural population 77%
  - Improved Sanitation 36%
     - Urban population 47%
     - Rural population 35%
References & Remarks
A UNDP Human Development Report
B CIA World Factbook and Wikipedia
C CIA World Factbook Country Profiles
D Aquastat - FAO's Information System on Water and Agriculture
E CIA World Factbook
F Earthtrends

> Articles | Projects & Case studies | Publications & Web resources | Who is who | Maps
> Sector Assessment | Sector Coordination | Donor Profile

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Country Profile: Climate, Geography, Socio-Economic Context

Burundi straddles the Nile and Congo basins and has abundant groundwater and freshwater resources. The country has three large lakes, including Lake Tanganyika (one of the world’s largest freshwater lakes) and significant wetlands and marshland. Most of the country receives between 1300–1600 millimeters of rainfall per year, with the wettest areas in the northwest.

Despite these significant resources, access to water in Burundi has been challenged: the country experienced several droughts between 2004 and 2006; marshes and wetlands have been drained or used seasonally for agricultural production; and infrastructure for water delivery fell into serious disrepair or was destroyed during the conflicts in the 1990s and early 2000s. Urban water supply in Burundi dropped from over 70% coverage in 1993 to 60% coverage in 2008. In rural areas, 40% of the population has access to safe drinking water. In a World Bank Institute study, 50% of respondents reported paying bribes to obtain access to safe drinking water. Between 66% and 78% of all reported illnesses are the result of lack of access to safe drinking water and sanitation.

Water use in Burundi is shared by the following sectors: agriculture (77%), domestic (17%), and industry (6%). Irrigation is limited to surface irrigation (ponds, ditches, and furrows) and is poorly developed.

With limited mechanisms for erosion control, rainwater is accelerating land degradation in Burundi. Sedimentation in waterways, wetlands, inland lakes, and Lake Tanganyika is causing loss of fish and wildlife habitat, filling channels and lakes, and spreading pollutants.

Country Profile: Water Bodies and Resources

Burundi’s water supply and sanitation (WSS) sector endured years of destruction brought on by sabotage and neglect during the civil war and its aftermath (1993-1999). As Burundi’s WSS sector recovers from these events, new challenges are emerging as the sector moves from reconstruction to development. Coverage ratios declined during and after the civil war as many of Burundi’s urban areas, and particularly peri-urban areas of Bujumbura, experienced rampant growth stemming from the return of exiled and internally displaced peoples to cities. Between 68 percent (1999) and 76 percent of all reported illnesses in Burundi are the result of limited safe drinking water and sanitation. Households have resorted to unprotected water in rivers, lakes, water haulers, shallow wells, and unmanaged public standpipes.

The WSS sector is poised to experience growth as donors resume activities suspended during the years of instability. After presidential elections in 2004, a national water sector policy development process began and has continued with donor support. The government is also working to better manage its watersheds in order to protect water sources and increase available supply for domestic purposes through the National Water Master Plan.

Country Profile: Legal and Institutional Environment

Key Agencies in Burundi's Water Sector
Key Agencies in Burundi's Water Sector
Legal Framework

Burundi’s 1992 Water Code, (Décret n° 1/ 41 du 26 novembre 1992 portant institution et organization du domain public hydraulique), currently under revision, governs the country’s water resources. Burundi’s water is within the public domain, and the Water Code governs rights of access to groundwater, lakes and water courses, as well as the distribution of drinking water. The Code includes provisions that were designed to: (1) ensure conservation of water and protection of aquatic ecosystems; (2) supply drinking water to the population and protect water resources from pollution; and (3) develop water as an economic good and respond to the water needs of all sectors of the national economy. Order in Council No. 1/196 of 2 October 1968 gave the public utility for water and electricity (REGIDESO, Régie de Production et de Distribution de l’Eau et de l’Electricité) a monopoly over water catchment and distribution, and Decree No. 100/072 of 21 April 1997 delineated responsibilities for water distribution and management between the Directorate General of Rural Water and Electricity (DGHER) and REGIDESO.

In 2000, Burundi adopted Law No. 1/014, which sets out a framework to support private sector engagement in the provision of drinking water and energy, including a regulatory body and development fund. Law No. 1/014 also eliminated REGIDESO’s monopoly over the provision of drinking water and energy and provided that REGIDESO and DGHER are delegated public service providers operating under a to-be-established regulatory body. Order in Council No. 1/011 of 8 April 1989 reorganized municipal administration, and the Government of Burundi transferred some functions relating to management and maintenance of water and sanitation infrastructure to the communes.

Other laws governing Burundi’s water resources include: (1) the Environment Code (Law No. 1/010 of 30 June 2000), which addresses issues of water resources management and conservation and the development and protection of watersheds and land; and (2) the Public Health Code (Order in Council No. 1/16 of 17 May 1982), which requires that all projects relating to water catchment have the prior authorization of the Minister in charge of health.

MWEM’s Water Sector Policy (2005–2007) expresses the government’s commitment to ensuring the quality and quantity of water needed to meet the demands of the different users. The policy goals are to: (1) improve knowledge of water sources for efficient, equitable, and sustainable management of water resources; (2) increase the water and sanitation coverage; and (3) achieve better coordination among sector players (ADF 2005). The sector policy for urban sanitation is currently being updated by MEM with the support of the German Development Bank, KfW.

Tenure Issues

Burundi’s 1986 Land Code provides that the state owns Burundi’s rivers, lakes, and water resources. The 1992 Water Code provides that, with the exception of domestic use (including water for livestock and gardens), all water access requires a specific authorization or government concession. Regulations govern the conditions of extraction of water from groundwater sources or surface water sources for plantation development, irrigation, or other non-domestic uses. All rights granted are subject to the terms of these regulations, are temporary, and are revocable. All water users are required to use water resources in a manner that avoids pollution and the spread of waterborne disease.

The 1992 Water Code provides for the establishment of Water User Associations, which, once properly constituted, can obtain authority for management of water resources at local levels.

Institutional Framework

A number of institutions are involved in the management of water resources, resulting in overlapping responsibilities in some areas. The Ministry of Water, Energy and Mines (MWEM), through its Directorate General for Water and Energy (DGEE), heads up policy formulation and the administrative functions of the central government as they relate to the WSS sector. In the rural areas the Directorate General of Rural Water and Electricity (DGHER), an entity under MWEM, oversees and coordinates drinking water and sanitation.

The Water and Electric Authority (REGIDESO), a public utility with autonomous legal and financial status that operates under the supervision of the MWEM, and 34 Communal Water Authorities (RCEs) undertake actual service provision. REGIDESO is responsible for catchment, treatment, and distribution of drinking water in the urban or urbanizing centers. The RCEs supply drinking water to the rural areas.

SETEMU (Services Techniques Municipaux) is responsible for sewerage and wastewater treatment services but only covers 38 percent of the Bujumbura’s needs. Other cities and towns do not have a sewerage system or wastewater treatment facilities. Sanitation services in rural areas are limited: only 23 percent of the population use functional facilities.

The government of Burundi remains the principal financier of the WSS sector in spite of its meager budgetary resources. Donor contributions are increasing, but private sector investment remains absent.

Government Reforms, Interventions and Investments

With the support of USAID’s Burundi Policy Reform initiative, in January 2010 the Ministry of Water, Environment, Spatial Planning and Urban Development organized a workshop consultation on the draft revision of the 1992 Water Code. The ministry noted that the sector suffers from lack of appropriate standards, lack of coordination, unclear delineation of responsibilities among various government bodies, and poorly developed and managed data and information. As a result the country does not have sound management of its water resources. USAID expressed its commitment to working with the government to develop a legal framework governing the country’s water resources.

Under its National Water Master Plan, the Government is working to improve management of watersheds in order to protect water sources and increase the domestic water supply. The Government’s objectives for the water sector are to identify efficient and equitable means of meeting demands for potable water and other uses, to improve the availability of water at an affordable price, to coordinate sectoral interests, and to achieve optimal use of water to support sustainable development. The Government’s objective in the rural sector is to be able to provide a water source within less than a 500-meter radius of each household between now and 2015. To that end, the government identified the following areas for attention: (1) rehabilitation and development of water sources and water supply networks; (2) strengthening of water production plants; (3) and improving the capacities of existing Communal Water Authorities.

Country Profile: Water Sector Coordination

See Sector coordination sub-page for detailed description

Country Profile: Trends in Water Use, Management and Sanitation

Country Profile: Challenges and Opportunities

Donor Involvement

In FY2009, the USAID-sponsored Burundi Policy Reform Program shifted its focus from the land sector to water resources management (among other foci) in recognition of the political support behind water reforms. USAID has been providing technical and financial support to assist the government in developing a new legal framework for the water sector, including organizing consultations with local government, communities, and civil society organizations and convening the stakeholders workshop in January 2010 to work on revisions to the 1992 Water Code.

GTZ has been one of the largest donors to Burundi’s water sector and plays a lead role in coordinating donor activities. In partnership with the Ministry of Water, Energy and Mines and other ministries, GTZ is implementing a major water and sanitation program in three rural areas, funded by KfW Entwicklungsbank (KfW Development Bank). GTZ is also working on the development of guiding principles for a new water policy and supporting legal framework.

The World Bank’s US $50 million Multi-Sectoral Water and Electricity project (2008–2013) was designed to: (1) increase access to water supply services in peri-urban areas of Bujumbura; (2) increase the reliability and quality of electricity services; (3) increase the quality and reliability of water supply services, with primary focus on Bujumbura; and (4) strengthen the public utility (REGIDESO)’s financial sustainability. The FY2009 Statement of Project Execution (SOPE) reports that due to delays in the processing of procurements, no reportable progress was made in FY2009.

Other donors involved in the water sector include the African Development Bank (AfDB), for rehabilitation and development of urban services and integration of water management; the EU, for rural and peri-urban water infrastructure development and capacity-building; the Austrian Cooperation, for water resources management and planning; and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), for hygiene and sanitation awareness and capacity-building of rural drinking water and sanitation facilities. As part of its Lake Victoria Region Water and Sanitation Initiative, UN-Habitat proposed significant reforms for the water and sanitation sector, including piloting those reforms in three rural areas.


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Projects and Case Studies

Projects in or about Burundi

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Case studies in or about Burundi

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5 most recently updated publications on Burundi
  1. Water Conflict and Cooperation/Nile River Basin ‎(54,232 views) . . Katy.norman
  2. The Nile: Moving Beyond Cooperation ‎(10,612 views) . . Katy.norman

5 most popular publications on Burundi
  1. Water Conflict and Cooperation/Nile River Basin ‎(54,232 views) . . Katy.norman
  2. The Nile: Moving Beyond Cooperation ‎(10,612 views) . . Katy.norman

See the complete list of WaterWiki documented publications on Burundi

Who is Who

People working in Burundi

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Organizations working in Burundi

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See also

External Resources



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