Submitted by: Collectif National pour le Développement Humanitaire, CNDH
Implemented country: Burundi
Title: More Nature and Quality of Life for Burundi
Jean-Yves Gatete lives in the city of Bujunbura in Burundi. He is a communications expert and director of Collectif National pour le Développement Humanitaire, CNDH. The environment of Burundi suffered greatly from the war between 1993 and 2004. Entire forests were destroyed and decimated due to over-population. There is an increased need for new farmland and firewood. The diversity of species is endangered. Lake Tanganyika was being mostly used as a garbage dump. Nothing much was done by the government. « Imagination is more important than knowledge”, is Gatete’s motto, which is based on a quote by Albert Einstein. Gatete based his project on this motto. When, despite all his work, Jean-Yves has some spare time, he enjoys reading, travelling and attending cultural events.
Much was and still needs to be accomplished. Forests need reforesting; sustainable agriculture needs to be promoted; drinking water and sanitary conditions need improvement as do waste removal systems. More young people need to be made aware of the problems. The CNDH team’s first step was to clean up Bujumbura, followed by other cities. This was done every Saturday together with the local population. Trees were planted around the cities. Sustainable agriculture was promoted by teaching what to cultivate and harvest at what time of the year. Lake Tanganyika, which was filled to the brim with plastic waste, was the next step. The water was treated and the shores were cleaned up. Plants that presented ecological dangers to the lake were periodically removed. The arid north of Burundi was supplied with more drinking water. CNDH built wells and irrigation channels for the farmers.
The joint projects also need cultural reinforcement in order to receive more acceptance. The work activities were accompanied by singing and drumming songs about the environment. This way CNDH quickly and affordably succeeded in including more people in such activities. Now Jean-Yves would like to find additional funding to attract more people, especially young people, because 46 per cent of the local population are younger than 15. Many of them came to Burundi as refugees. Jean-Yves would like to establish a youth organization in Bujumbura, thereby creating a heightened awareness and a bigger sense of responsibility for the environment. But he also considers his work with young people as a contribution to safeguarding peace. Today, a third of his project has been completed. With an original budget of 19,000 euros, Jean-Yves Gatete has achieved a lot since 2008, and this is why other countries are also interested in his project, which is now being implemented in Masabo, Ruanda and in Kisumu, Kenya.
“The best richness is to get the peace of mind and that arrives only when all your neighbours slept without hunger and cries!“