Rutana is located in the south-eastern part of Burundi, a region where most people make a living through agriculture.
However, daily life is tough as land is increasingly scarce and the soil is usually poor in nutrients. As a result, many people suffer from food insecurity and lack a secure livelihood.
In addition to widespread malnutrition and poverty, HIV/AIDS and the lack of adequate healthcare are further challenges. All this puts children and young people in the region at risk.
Since 2005, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Rutana.
As in the rest of Burundi, the Rutana region records a worrying number of HIV infections, malaria and other diseases. At the same time, access to medical facilities remains limited. Although the number of direct HIV infections is declining, some children continue to be affected by the disease due to transmission from mother to child during pregnancy. An estimated 500 children are infected each year.
For children, HIV/AIDS often means the loss of parental care, leaving them particularly vulnerable. In the absence of a parent, children might be forced to contribute to the household income or care for their younger siblings.
In the Rutana region, most people depend on agriculture, both for food and as a source of income.
However, fertile land is becoming increasingly scarce and many people in Burundi are too poor to afford fertilisers to address this problem. As a result, food scarcity is a widespread challenge.
This not only increases the number of people living in poverty, but also puts them at risk of malnutrition. In fact, more than 50% of people do not have enough to eat. Children are particularly at risk as malnutrition can stunt their development, leaving them too small for their age.