man wearing VOA cap holds up an ipad

Town hall meeting engages community in rural Burundi

More than 1,000 people gathered in rural Burundi on January 26 to discuss the topic of family planning and other public health issues. The BBG’s Office of Development organized the town hall in Kirundo, a city about 135 miles from Bumjumbara, the capital of Burundi.

Burundi is one of the poorest nations in the world with an overwhelmingly young population – 38% of the population is under the age of 15. The city of Kirundo boasts one of the highest population densities in the country and according to its governor, Reverien Nziganasabo, this is causing strife in the community.

“There is an explosion of people…people are fighting over land,” said Nziganasabo, explaining that the entire community benefits when parents can better plan the size of their families and the spacing of children.

With funding from the U.S. Department of State and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the town hall included a song and dance contest to amplify the benefits of family planning and the importance of providing families with education and medical care.

U.S. international media also serve the audience in Burundi through VOA broadcasts of an interactive health news and information radio program called Kira (Getting Well). The half hour, weekly radio program, which is broadcast in the Kirundi language, includes discussion of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, one of the most serious health issues facing the country.