The current environmental situation in Burundi shows three major problems: degradation and exhaustion of soils, degradation of forestry resources and human environmental degradation. Burundi has developed many adaptation projects to address adverse effects of climate change based on existing coping mechanisms and practices. These projects include a project on the improvement of seasonal early warning climate forecasts and another on the Protection of buffer zones in Lake Tanganyika floodplain and around the lakes of Bugesera.
Burundi, a landlocked country in the middle of Central Africa covers an area of approximately 28,000 square kilometers, is home to nearly 9 million inhabitants—making it the second most densely populated country in sub-Saharan Africa (USDS, 2010). It contains five main geographic zones: the floodplains, the Congo-Nile watershed, the plateaus of the central part of the country, and depressed valleys. The country’s hydrological system is defined by two large catchment areas: the Nile basin and the Congo River basin (MLMTE, 2007). Soil degradation, deforestation and sanitation issues are Burundi’s three main environmental challenges. Already deforestation and soil erosion heavy rains have resulted in floods and the destruction of infrastructure in the country, and make the country more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change (MLMTE, 2007).
Burundi is among the poorest countries in the world, with 58 per cent of its inhabitants living on less than a dollar per day (MLMTE, 2007). Rain-fed agriculture employs around 94 per cent of the population, constitutes 95 per cent of the country’s food supply, and generates 45 per cent of the country’s GDP (with coffee constituting 55.6 per cent of exports) (MLMTE, 2007; USDS, 2010). Approximately 95 per cent of the country’s energy is derived from wood (MLMTE, 2007). It is estimated that the subsistence economy has diminished by 30 per cent over the past few years as a result of high population density, soil erosion and a prolonged period of civil unrest that ended in 2005 with the establishment of a democratically elected government (USDS, 2010).