Cibitoke is a predominantly rural settlement in Burundi, and one of the country’s most densely populated areas, having received streams of refugees and internally displaced people during the years of civil war.
Burundi is one of the world’s poorest countries and its children among the most vulnerable. In 2009, SOS Children’s Villages established a presence in Cibitoke to help these children and families who were in desperate need.
Cibitoke is slowly recovering from the effects of civil war
The settlement of Cibitoke is predominantly rural and is located in northwest Burundi, approximately 64 kilometres from the capital, Bujumbura. Despite its rural setting, Cibitoke is one of the most densely populated areas of the country, with 6% of the country’s total population. A 2008 census had the settlement’s population at just over 50,000 inhabitants, but numbers may have significantly increased and declined in the intervening years due to internally displaced people.
A twelve year, violent civil war in Burundi resulted in around 800,000 internally displaced people in 1999 and in 2011 there were still up to 80,000 people living in displaced settlements in the country’s north.
Poverty compounded by limited social infrastructure
The majority of refugees are living in poverty, having lost land and possessions in the conflict, and they do not own the land they have been resettled on. Children in Cibitoke are particularly vulnerable, with an estimated 13% attending school and the majority living in extreme hardship. More than 9% of children are believed to have been separated from or abandoned by their parents.
The increased population of residents and internally displaced people in Cibitoke places considerable strain on already overloaded schools and health services. In addition, poverty, food insecurity, limited educational opportunities and social services, and inadequate sanitation, which brings with it the risk of measles and cholera outbreaks, continue to endanger the health and development of Cibitoke’s children.
Our work in Cibitoke
In 2009, SOS Children established a presence in Cibitoke in response to the high levels of poverty in the region. It is estimated that 80% of people in Burundi are living in poverty, and food, medicine and electricity are scarce resources. Due to poverty and other social challenges including HIV/AIDS, the number of orphaned, abandoned and vulnerable children continues to rise.
In an effort to keep families together, allowing children to grow up in a stable and loving environment, SOS Children’s Villages works in co-operation with local authorities to strengthen social infrastructure and empower families living in poverty. We provide parents and carers with advice on income-generating activities and finding employment as well as parenting so that they can build the skills and confidence to care for their children.
The SOS social centre provides local residents with health care, medical assistance and counselling services, as well as education about preventing HIV/AIDS and assisting families in need with basic essential material items.
Stable and loving homes
In Cibitoke, we currently have several SOS families providing a stable and loving home for well over 100 children who cannot grow up with their parents. SOS families allow children to grow and develop under the care of an SOS mother, along with their new SOS brothers and sisters.
Around 75 children from Citiboke Village and the neighbouring community attend our nursery, enabling SOS children to integrate from an early age. Daycare is a much-needed service, providing peace of mind for parents and carers who work or search for employment during the day.
More than 230 children attend the SOS Primary School in Cibitoke, making it one of the city’s most important educational facilities.
You can support children in Cibitoke by sponsoring a child today. Be amazing, and change a child's life.