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IRC, International Rescue Committee
Burundi, one of the poorest countries in the world, is recovering from decades of conflict that claimed 300,000 lives and forced over a million to flee their homes. 68% of the 8.4 million people living in Burundi live below the poverty line and the country falls at the bottom of the Global Hunger Index. Since 2003, over 450,000 refugees have returned to the country and the potential for political instability is high. In this context, children face numerous risks to their development and wellbeing, including domestic and community violence and limited caregiver capacity to protect and care for their children.
To address the risks facing children, while also building evidence around effective approaches for children affected by both poverty and armed conflict, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) implemented, with the support of USAID’s Displaced Children and Orphans Fund (DCOF), the Urwaruka Rushasha (New Generation) project aimed at improving the protection, development and wellbeing of highly vulnerable boys and girls in Burundi’s Makamba and Bujumbura Rural provinces. Through this project, the IRC seeks to have a positive impact on household poverty and child protection, child development, and wellbeing, while generating evidence about how this can be effectively done. The project includes two interventions believed to be effective in improving caregiver capacity to protect and care for their children: a VSLA intervention involving the establishment of Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs) and provision of entrepreneurship and financial literacy education, and a family-based intervention.