The World Bank approved two grants for a total of $160 million from the International Development Association (IDA) to support Burundi in improving essential services through solar power and local development in rural and remote areas.
$100 million in subsidies will go to the Solar Energy in Local Communities (SOLEIL), which aims to increase access to energy in the country by almost 100% by electrifying families, businesses, schools and centres of the poorest communities in the country.
More than 91,000 households, 4,000 SMEs, 500 schools and 400 health centres will have access to electricity thanks to solar energy. 400 schools and 300,000 households will also have ecological fireplaces.
The remaining $60 million from the IDA will go to Integrated Community Development, a project that will improve nutrition and access to basic services and economic opportunities for the most vulnerable populations in the country, including refugees. It will allow the creation of 1,000 micro-enterprises and the training of 8,000 people in healthy nutrition.
About 73% of Burundians live in poverty and only one in 10 Burundians have access to electricity. This electrification figure drops to only 2% in rural areas.
Access to basic services and infrastructure such as healthcare centres, schools, roads and electricity remain a major barrier to economic opportunities. 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.
He continued: “It will help build small infrastructures such as schools, health centres and roads as a lifeline for rural communities, improve nutrition and expand access to solar electricity.”
Burundi projects to ‘enlighten’ and work ‘together’
The SOLEIL, or Nyakiriza in Kirundi (meaning enlighten me), project grant will almost double the rate of electricity access in the country by expanding access to rural communities.
This will improve the quality of health and education services delivered in rural areas and will provide about 17MW 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 (meaning we are together), project 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.