AVSI and EnDev in partnership to enhance community quality of life in Burundi through improved cook stoves

Through the distribution of cook stoves, the project aims not only to improve nutrition, but also to provide training to people in the communities so that they can start a business using the opportunity to sell the cook stoves and become financially self-sufficient

The EnDev project, coordinated by GIZ and  Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO), has been operational since July 2021 with a duration of two years. Operating in eighteen districts across Burundi, its core objective is to foster a sustainable market for improved cook stoves in the country.

As of January 2023, the project has implemented an intervention strategy targeting marginalized communities, particularly unemployed women facing dire circumstances. In an effort to improve their living standards, the project has partnered with the Batwa community and women residing near Buterere, Burundi’s largest rubbish dump.

EnDev logo

Elevating livelihoods with the Batwa community

The Batwa, an indigenous minority group in Burundi, have a long-standing tradition of crafting clay pots. However, due to competition from imported metal pots and land discrimination, this tradition no longer provides a sustainable income. To uplift this marginalized community, the EnDev project initiated action in July 2021, training 13 Batwa members in crafting the innovative BIIKIGITI stoves.

EnDev's support included technical training, establishment of production facilities, equipment provision, marketing guidance, and market exploration. Seizing this opportunity, the Batwa formed the "Dutegure Kazoza" association and swiftly transitioned to producing and selling the improved stoves. With each stove priced between 1.20 and 1.60 euros, the economic prospects for the Batwa community have significantly improved.

Life was really tough. We could only eat once a day, and many of us struggled to find enough food. But ever since the EnDev project started teaching us how to make and sell stoves, things have gotten better. I used the money from selling stoves to buy 4 cows, 2 pigs, and 2 goats. Our group also rented a big piece of land where we planted rice

Joel Ndayishimye, Dutegure Kazoza association president

Education also flourished within the Batwa community, with children now attending school regularly and excelling academically, thanks to improved financial stability.

We survived by making pottery. When we sold them, the biggest ones went for 0.10 euros. But to buy just a kilo of maize flour, we had to sell at least 5 pots. Sometimes, we traded two pots for a cup of beans. But now, things have changed. With the money I earned, I bought some land, built a house using strong materials, and now my family eats well. 

Jacqueline Iremukwishaka a workshop member

The social landscape shifted as well, with the Batwa gaining newfound respect and appreciation within their community. Venant Barindogo, improved cook stoves production technical coordinator, recounts their initial skepticism giving way to enthusiastic embrace as success unfolded, with even hesitant members now acknowledging the benefits.

Empowering women of Buterere through entrepreneurship

In Buterere, a district north of Bujumbura, AVSI’s EnDev initiative is igniting a change for marginalised women like Beatrice, who reside near the city’s largest landfill. Previously confined to hazardous scavenging, Beatrice and 32 other women have transitioned into entrepreneurs by selling BIIKIGITI improved cooking stoves.

“I used to pick up trash all day long from the dump – Béatrice Nduwimana says – Now, I sell two better cooking stoves for 1.90 euros each in just three hours and get to be with my kids”

Empowered by AVSI through the ENDEV project, these women underwent training in entrepreneurship and financial literacy. Additionally, they received an initial capital of ten improved cook stoves. This transformative journey from waste collection to stove vending signifies resilience and renewed hope, showcasing the impact of community-driven endeavors.

landfill bujumbura capital of burundi
The Buterere landfill, the largest dump in Burundi

Since 1993 up to January 2023, I stayed alive by picking up what others threw away at the dump. Mostly I gathered charcoal, bones, and scraps of metal. I earned about 0.50 to to 0.60 euros every day. Back then, I couldn't imagine a better tomorrow. But now, I have big dreams ahead of me

Anne Marie Ndayisenga

With newfound determination, these women are planning to transition their association into a cooperative, supported by EnDev's efforts to secure funding for their business. This initiative not only empowers women economically but also fosters a sense of agency and optimism for a prosperous tomorrow.

Scaling impact one improved cook stove at a time

As AVSI's EnDev project continues to ripple positive change across Burundi, its impact extends far beyond individual lives. With over 131,026 improved cooking stoves distributed across rural and urban landscapes.

Three Burundian women involved in the EnDev project implemented by AVSI
Three women walking in a street of Bujumbura the capital of Burundi. They sell improved cook stoves within the EnDev project implemented by AVSI

Recognized for their efficiency and affordability by the Ministry of the Environment, these stoves represent a tangible step towards environmental sustainability. Moreover, the establishment of 453 sales outlets underscores the project's commitment to widespread adoption and empowerment.