Why Burundi Ranks as the World’s Poorest Nation

Burundi, located in the heart of East Africa, is dealing with the painful reality of being called the poorest country in the world.

According to the World Bank, Burundi’s GDP per capita in 2021 was a meager $261.24. In contrast, its neighbors, Rwanda and Tanzania, have experienced faster economic growth.

Burundi’s natural resources, including copper, cobalt, nickel, feldspar, phosphate rock, quartzite, rare uranium and vanadium reserves, and fertile agricultural area, have not been adequately utilized due to internal problems.

The country’s troubles are not isolated, since it is classified as a “poorest country” alongside the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Malawi.

However, what distinguishes Burundi is its failure to maximize on its potential, as highlighted by institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.

These organizations identify political instability, corruption, and bad governance as important problems impeding Burundi’s economic progress.

Burundi’s economic troubles are exacerbated when compared to other African countries with comparable natural resources.

For example, Ghana and Ivory Coast have used their agricultural sectors to drive economic expansion.

Burundi, on the other hand, is nevertheless impoverished, with more than 90% of its population depending on subsistence farming.

This striking disparity raises issues about the internal mechanisms that have brought Burundi to its current situation.

1. Political Instability and Conflict

Burundi’s economic troubles are primarily due to its lengthy history of political instability and conflict.

The civil conflict that ravaged the country from 1993 and 2005 left profound wounds, interrupting economic activity and resulting in a huge loss of human capital.

The political upheaval that followed the 2015 elections aggravated the problem, prompting sanctions and a decline in foreign aid, which is critical to the country’s finances.

2. Corruption and Poor Governance

Corruption is another major issue impeding Burundi’s economic development. According to Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, Burundi is one of the world’s most corrupt countries.

Corruption pervades all levels of government, resulting in wasteful use of resources, impeding foreign investment, and worsening poverty.


3. Overreliance on Subsistence Agriculture

Agriculture is the cornerstone of Burundi’s economy, employing more than 90% of the population. However, the sector is extremely vulnerable to climate change and needs modernization.

Overreliance on subsistence farming, combined with periodic droughts and floods, causes food insecurity and restricts the country’s economic progress.


4. Lack of Infrastructure

Burundi’s infrastructure is poorly underdeveloped, with inadequate transportation systems and limited access to energy and potable water.

This lack of infrastructure impedes trade, raises the cost of conducting business, and discourages investment, further restricting economic progress.

5. Low Human Capital Development

The country’s human capital development is among the lowest in the world. Burundi has a high level of illiteracy, hunger, and child mortality.

A lack of education and healthcare investment leads to a workforce that lacks the skills and health required for economic success.

Burundi’s status as the world’s poorest country stems from a complicated interplay of internal forces.

Addressing these difficulties requires a collaborative effort from the government, international community, and civil society to promote stability, transparency, and sustainable development.

Only then can Burundi hope to break the cycle of poverty and build a better future.

Written by PH

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