Partner in Focus: UCEDD

All We Can partner UCEDD provides literacy and agricultural training to the mariganlised Batwa tribe in Burundi. ©All We Can/ Purple Flame Media

With more than 80% of the population living on less than £1 a day, life for an average Burundian is one of daily struggle. One community that experiences this struggle particularly acutely are the Batwa people.

The Batwa tribe

The Batwa are traditionally nomadic, dwelling in forests outside the mainstream of society. As a marginalised group they are stigmatised, treated with little value or respect.

All We Can have been supporting local partner organisation UCEDD since 2011, working with Batwa communities to identify the solutions that will bring improvement to their lives. Innocent Mahwikizi, project co-ordinator of UCEDD explains, “The neighbours of the Batwa never considered them to be human beings”.

Learning new skills

The women in the community are skilled potters and for many years were able to sell or exchange hand-crafted clay pots to provide for their families. However, since the increasing availability of plastic containers there is less demand and their families struggle to have enough money for food.

By working in partnership with the community, UCEDD have trained people in modern agricultural techniques – providing them with skills that will sustain them for the long term.

We support the community by raising awareness of farming techniques, doing
everything to help the Batwa legally obtain their land, and support them in farming and looking after livestock. – Innocent Mahwikizi

Land rights

As a nomadic people, the Batwa have not had any rights to the land where they live and work. This means that they do not have security when building their homes or cultivating the land where they have settled.

Venant Habimana and his wife Rosalie live with their family in the village Rudaraza. Venant says, “Where we were living, the government could have told us at any moment to move on – it was a permanent threat. UCEDD told us there were ways we could get legal rights to land.”

Through support from UCEDD, Venant now has the legal ownership papers for the land where he lives. He says, “One of the benefits of living on your own land is that you can put up a permanent house, where you can settle in the community and organise your life without being checked by landlords. We are at peace in our own house.”

Venant [left] proudly shows Innocent from UCEDD the legal land rights documents he has obtained with their support. © All We Can/ Purple Flame Media

UCEDD’s training and support have also enabled Venant to farm his land more effectively. He explains, “UCEDD helped me in farming and cultivating correctly, such as diversifying seeds, planting in lines and growing the right seeds in the right season”. His wife Rosalie comments, “Everyone has enough food to share with their neighbour. Before we ate one meal per day, some days none. Now we have two meals – breakfast and dinner. It is good that the children have some food before going to school so that they have strength”.