Reducing the impact of climate change on the availability of water and land resources

Project description

Title: Sustainable management of water and land for food security in regions at risk of disaster
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Burundi, Central Africa
Lead executing agency: Office Burundais de Protection de l‘Environnement (OBPE) Burundian Office for Environmental Protection
Overall term: 2018 to 2021


The population of Burundi is heavily dependent on agriculture and the country’s natural resources. Land resources and agriculture provide a livelihood for about 90 per cent of the predominantly rural population. With around 380 inhabitants per square kilometre, the country has one of the highest population densities in the world, leaving only about half a hectare of land available to each household with an average of seven persons. As a result, many inhabitants cultivate unsuitable areas and steep gradients. This often ends up destroying the land by causing severe erosion and declining soil fertility. Due to a lack of (rain)water management, agricultural yields are also low.
Productivity growth in the agricultural sector cannot keep up with the country’s high population growth of more than three per cent. Overgrazed and overexploited forest areas are also contributing to the destruction of ecosystems. These environmental problems are being exacerbated by the impact of climate change – for instance, higher temperatures and rainfall, and extreme events such as floods and droughts. This makes the population more vulnerable and puts their socio-economic development at risk.


Improved risk prevention and disaster risk management by municipalities has increased the resistance of smallholder households to climate change. Overall, the prerequisites for the socio-economic development of households requiring protection have improved.


The project strengthens the ability of small farmers in at-risk regions to put climate-sensitive measures into practice in the long term, in the areas of both water and land management and food security. It supports measures to promote food security, including new crops and seeds that provide higher yields, while also supporting biological measures to improve soil fertility and plant health.
Particular emphasis is placed on giving women better access to their own income from agriculture. The project also promotes the involvement of women in decision-making about how income or savings are used.
At-risk municipalities are exposed to a high risk of disaster due to extreme weather events that usually affect areas cultivated using unadapted water and land management methods. The project therefore supports municipal stakeholders in implementing systematic disaster risk management measures.
To achieve as broad an impact as possible, the project supports and promotes dialogue between technical governmental and non-governmental stakeholders in the interest of small farmers. This exchange helps to disseminate successful approaches via non-governmental development actors, thus improving their ability to promote environmentally friendly water and land management and food security in the rural population. In addition, their work in municipalities and communities has an impact on technical government services.



  • Through environmentally friendly water and land management in at-risk regions, the project contributes to increasing the water storage capacity of land and water infiltration, while also reducing erosion. Soil fertility is also being improved and/or stabilised through new cultivation methods and partially closed  nutrient cycles.
  • Energy-saving ovens are reducing the need for firewood and thus protecting trees. Implementation of these measures is also improving adaptation to extreme events caused by climate change.
  • The poor, rural population is better able to stabilise or even improve its agricultural production thanks to measures aimed at conserving land and water. This is leading to higher economic returns and generating income for women and young people.
  • The involvement of women in household decision-making, agricultural cultivation and the use of income is helping to strengthen their role in families and society.

Additional information