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Helping to sow the seeds of progress in Burundi

Aid to Burundi (A2B) is a charity organisation based in Bodyke and O’Callaghan’s Mills and has been working in Burundi since 2007.
Prior to that however, the group had been working together with members of the ALUCOPK agricultural co-operative, who have continually highlighted that one of their biggest problems is a lack of improved seeds, which would increase their productivity.
Experience in the past few years with small samples of such seeds brought from Ireland has given good results among members and following a recent East Clare donation of seeds, productivity has increased.
A2B aims to provide for the relief of poverty, sickness and distress in Karambi and surrounding areas in the province of Bururi in Burundi by providing the villagers with the means for sustainable growth and development to provide for their own needs and self development.
It is hoped through this work it will enable them to take active steps towards the eradication of poverty and secure lasting improvements in the quality of their lives.
Through Philip Moreau of Glenbrook Nurseries in Bodyke, Aid to Burundi recently received a donation of about 800 packets of improved vegetable seeds with a value of about €2,500.
According to Ben Murray of A2B, these seeds have now been distributed to members of the ALUCOPK agricultural co-operative. Each chosen family received a batch of five packets of seeds and a detailed record of the planting methods used and the results obtained will be kept for future reference.
In addition to their collaboration with ALUCOPK, A2B’s central work has been their participative approach with the population and their problems. All interventions are based on the needs of the population, as expressed by them.
A2B is currently funding a development worker, Jeanine Nimbona, to act as an extension worker with the villagers and as a liaison between A2B and the various village committees.
In collaboration with the population of the village of Karambi and the local village development committee, they have also successfully implemented the Bihari water project in the village.
This is a gravitational water supply scheme and now brings water from a mountain source to the village of Karambi as well as to other people who live along the proposed route. It is understood that up to 1,500 people benefit directly from the scheme.
A2B continues to support the process of sustainable management of the Bihari water supply scheme through the strengthening of the Village Development Committee.
A2B is also funding a goat-rearing project with members of the association and has already financed 20 local goats and two improved male bucks, which have recently been distributed to families in the village. The association members’ contribution to this project will also include feed and feeding equipment as well as veterinary expenses from funds they have built up over the past few years from sale of their produce. Detailed procedures for the passing on of the first female goat to another needy family have been drawn up by members and will be monitored by A2B.
Work is progressing on providing a community centre in Karambi village and the chosen site has been fenced off.
“Life for women in Burundi can be extremely difficult; they rarely participate in education and often find themselves the victim of domestic abuse. A2B is committed to empowering women by assisting them in overcoming these and any other issues which make life difficult for them,” Mr Murray said.
The Clare Women’s Network (CWN) coordinator Elaine D’alton and Leocadie Murray of A2B went to Burundi in August to establish a link between women in Burundi and the CWN. They met with several women’s groups and hope to establish more permanent links between the two countries, which will address gender inequality through capacity building and the promotion of income-generating activities.
Aid to Burundi has also entered a video for the online Better Together competition, a nationwide campaign aimed at building support for hundreds of charities, community groups, clubs and associations across the country.
The group are encouraging people to check out their three-minute video and vote for their entry by logging onto www.bettertogether.ie/content/aid2burundi. The voting deadline is November 11. Further details and updates about the charity can also be found online at www.aid2burundi.com.

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