What happens to Burundi if the European Union suspension of foreign aid continues?

Business Day Live reports that foreign aid to Burundi has stopped, following last week’s violent eruptions which resulted in the deaths of over 80 people. More specifically, the European Union (EU) has suspended foreign aid to the country on the grounds that the government is perpetrating abuse of the rule of law due to President Pierre Nkurunziza’s extension of term in office.

The European Union, the biggest donor of foreign aid to Burundi, was set to disburse €450m to the country until 2020, and also pledged to continue its humanitarian causes and projects in the country where the population benefits directly. The European Union External Action website indicates that the 11th European Development Fund worth €432m that will run between 2014 to 2020 in Burundi, would aid in tackling several challenges including sustainable rural development for nutrition, improving the healthcare sector, sustainable energy and provide support to civil society.

The resource-poor country, according to financial advisory company, Deloitte, has not experienced an economic recovery due to present socio-economic challenges. Deloitte notes that while 75 percent of debt was called in 2009, mineral, tea and coffee resources, are still not enough to foster independence from foreign aid.

Deloitte also suggests that Burundi has not been able to tackle poverty reduction in the last 10 years satisfactorily, despite economic growth and the improvement of macroeconomic indicators. In Emerging Africa, Kingsley Chiedu Moghalu outlined reasons why foreign aid to Africa has failed to impact the lives of the people. Here, he suggests that the accountability for the nature, focus and system of aid is not in favour of the recipients that the partnerships are meant to support but to the donors. He went further to state that Africa’s sustainable economic development depends greatly on how well each nation is able to create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive and promote trade within the continent and eventually compete globally.

In the EU’s attempt to stop the abuse of the rule of law, it appears that the citizens of Burundi will suffer the brunt of the decision. After all, in October 2015, the World Bank predicted a contraction in Burundi’s economy, describing how the political crisis facilitated by Nkurunziza is “turning a decade of good economic performance to a macroeconomic collapse.” Following this, Burundi needs foreign aid now more than ever.

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