The World Bank Board of Executive Directors approved today two grants for a total of $160 million from the International Development Association (IDA) to help improve essential services through solar power and local development in rural and remote areas of Burundi.
About 73% of Burundians live in poverty and more than half of the children under five are stunted. Only one in 10 Burundians have access to electricity in the country and this drops to only 2% in rural areas. Access to basic services and infrastructure such as health centers, schools, roads and electricity remain a major barrier to economic opportunities for most Burundians. In addition, the country is host to more than 85,000 refugees.
“Through these projects, we will help improve the livelihood of Burundians living in rural areas and strengthen human capital,” said World Bank Country Director, Jean-Christophe Carret. “It will help build small infrastructures such as schools, health centers and roads as a lifeline for rural communities, improve nutrition and expand access to solar electricity.”
The approved package will finance the following two projects.
The Solar Energy in Local Communities (SOLEIL) or “Nyakiriza” in Kirundi (“enlighten me”) project amounting to $100 million IDA grant will almost double the rate of electricity access in the country by expanding access to rural families, local enterprises, schools and health centers in some of the poorest areas of the country, thereby improving the livelihood and well-being of people. More than 91,000 families, 4,000 small business, 500 schools and 400 health centers will gain access to electricity through mini-grids or standalone solar systems. Another 400 schools and 300,000 households will gain access to clean and efficient cookstoves. This will improve the quality of health and education services delivered in rural areas and will provide about 17 MW of renewable generation capacity. In addition, the project will provide training on women’s employment and female entrepreneurship and strengthen regulations and policies to attract private sector participation in the provision of off-grid energy services.
The Integrated Community Development or “Turikumwe” in Kirundi (“we are together”) project amounting to $60 million IDA grant will help improve nutrition, access to basic services and economic opportunities for the most vulnerable populations in the poorest part of the country, including refugee communities and displaced Burundians recently relocated in regions targeted by the project. In particular, this community driven development initiative will help build and rehabilitate education and health facilities, as well as water supply and sanitation systems, rural roads and bridges. It will also create 1,000 micro-enterprises, train about 8,000 people in food safety and nutrition, and generate more than a million days of work.