An inclusive action plan for food security in Burundi
In many communities in Burundi, persons with a disability are often called ‘ikimuga’. This word refers not to a person, but to a ‘thing’. Something that is broken. This is not the case in Athanasie’s family. Her two youngest children with a disability go to school and are considered as valuable family members. And Athanasie is committed to bring change in other communities as well.
Four large drawings hang on the wall in Athanasie’s humble family house, in the northern part of Burundi. The drawings are a detailed plan of the household’s activities, income and expenditures, involving all household members. Athanasie and her family drew them as part of the PIP training (Integrated Farm Planning) they took through the We are Able! programme.
Inclusive PIP approach
“The first drawing is the actual image of our household,” she explained. “We drew what resources we have: banana trees, crops and chickens. The other drawing is our action plan with activities. We go step by step through this action plan to reach the drawing that pictures our vision.”
Athanasie’s small house is surrounded by green hills. Nearly 90 percent of Burundi’s population depends entirely on agriculture for their livelihoods, and so does Athanasie’s family. On the other hand, Burundi is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. As a result, many can’t make ends meet with only a small piece of farmland.
All Athanasie wishes for her children is to have a good future. The family took the opportunity to improve their agricultural production by implementing the inclusive PIP approach in their household as part of the We are Able! programme. With this approach, households are challenged by visualizing their ideas for the coming years. We are Able! adapted the PIP approach to include people with disabilities, so that they can actively take part in realizing a joint vision for their livelihood.
Just like us
The change the family sees in their household is tremendous. “Before the PIP training we did not fully consider the children with disabilities in our household,” recalled Athanasie. “Now we see that persons with disabilities are just like us. We did not consider that a child with a disability could go to school. We thought that they would stay home their whole life. After the training we observed that children with a disability are just like us. They can do a lot. Our children can study or cultivate the land.”
Before the family was trained trough the PIP approach, no dialogue took place in the household. “Now we are sitting together as a family to make plans,” Athanasie said. “We want to be an inclusive household. During the process we invested in chickens and a vegetable garden.”
Changing the community
After the training Athanasie went to other households to speak about inclusion of persons with a disability. “We reached more than ten households with persons with disabilities. Step by step we are changing the community, so that people with disabilities will not be considered as a problem but as valuable members. So they will be called by the name that was given to them by their parents, and not ikimuga.”