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Supporting Recovery from Climate Shocks With Microloans
Climate-related shocks have been brutal for Burundi, compounding poverty, child malnutrition and other existing crises.
Jeannette Niyibigira is one of thousands of residents of Gatumba whose clay homes fell apart in May 2020 when unseasonably heavy rains caused nearby rivers and lakes to overflow. She now lives in the Kigaramango displacement camp with her husband and six children, including an orphan she took in. And she supports the family by working as a seamstress, with help from a microloan.
The loan was provided by a community-based group that UNICEF and partner Faith in Action helped form and also support. UNICEF supports over 5,000 such groups across Burundi; members decide how best to invest the cash assistance received, which includes lending to fellow group members.
“People like it when they can wear nice clothes, and they know I am a good tailor,” Niyibigira told UNICEF. “So, when they have a good piece of fabric, they come and ask me to sew something for them.”
She works about six or seven hours a day earning the equivalent of about $4 to $5 — enough to feed her children and put them back into school.
In March 2021, there was more rain, and more flooding. But the family is still doing okay, because the sewing business is doing well.
"If I hadn't had the credit to have my machine repaired, I wouldn't have gotten ahead of this situation," Niyibigira says.
UNICEF and partners continue to assist Burundians affected by climate-related disasters, providing safe water, health care and other services and support, while also working with the government to strengthen local systems and build resilience.
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Top photo: Jeannette Niyibigira, a seamstress and beneficiary of a micro-credit scheme funded by UNICEF and implemented by partner Faith in Action, greets fellow residents at a camp for internally displaced families in Gatumba, near Bujumbura, Burundi. © UNICEF/UN0441891/Prinsloo