Funded by UNICEF Australia, the Creatable project helps students in Burundi build practical skills they can use to address needs in their community, protect the environment and start their own small businesses.
We are at Kabari Basic School in Ngozi Province, Burundi, a small, landlocked nation in East Africa. Despite the rain, two students guide us to the space where they planted vegetables a few days ago. Don Précieux, 14, and Sandrine, 16, proudly show us the latest activity they have developed thanks to the Creatable project.
This UNICEF initiative, aimed at stimulating the creative spirit and promoting entrepreneurship among young people, was launched in Burundi in 2020 in collaboration with the Ministry of National Education and Scientific Research, with funding from UNICEF Australia.
"I want to demonstrate an innovative practice here: growing vegetables in bags filled with soil. We have learned how we can grow a lot of vegetables in a small space like in the bags," says Don Précieux, pointing to bags of soil where vegetables are starting to sprout.
Students use grow bags to plant pop-up vegetable gardens
Vegetable farming is one of Creatable's most popular activities for students, as well as for their parents and teachers. Almost half of all households are food insecure in Burundi, one of the world's poorest countries; one of two children under the age of 5 is chronically malnourished.
"I have already set up a small farm with bags at home where I have planted vegetables," adds Don Précieux. "We have already harvested and eaten them at home. My parents encourage me to continue with this activity because now the vegetables are produced at home. The money that would have been used to buy them is used for other family needs."
I have already set up a small farm with bags at home where I have planted vegetables. We have already harvested and eaten them at home. — Don Précieux, 14
For Sandrine, the activity has improved the life of her entire family: "We are seven siblings at home. I was very happy to bring something new for the benefit of my family and to teach this technique to my brothers and sisters," she says.
Creatable projects celebrate innovation and build skills students can use to protect the environment
Creatable projects encourage students to explore entrepreneurial activities while finding solutions to problems in the surrounding community.
To this end, two activities are ongoing within the project: innovative agriculture with the creation of nurseries and bag farms, and the manufacture of improved cookstoves that use less firewood and reduce pollution from cooking smoke, protecting the environment and improving health in households.
During the first phase of the project in 2020, Science and Technology teachers from 10 pilot schools, one school per province, were trained on these two innovative activities. They then imparted the knowledge they had acquired to their students through theoretical and practical training.
"We see that Creatable has given the students a different image of their future lives. We hope it will help them to create small projects by themselves after school to get by in life," says Oscar Sinzinkayo, a Science and Technology teacher at Kabari Basic School.
Building and selling low-emission cookstoves reduces air pollution in the community
At the Communal Technical High School (LTC) in Muruta, Muyinga Province, a large improved cookstove made by students in the high school is used as a model for the students and for preparing meals in the school.
Isidonie Nzeyimana, a teacher of Science and Technology at Communal Technical High School who is participating in the project, says, "Creatable encouraged my students to make improved cookstoves to sell in the neighborhood, which has already enabled them to earn an income. I am very proud of them."
As of May 2023, Creatable projects had already benefitted at least 1,860 students in Burundi — and, by extension, their communities.
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