From the modern perspective, it can be difficult to believe how rapidly climate change occurred, and the human suffering that came as a result. This UN report on Burundi highlights how completely the devastation altered the fabric of a society.
I.A.320. BURUNDI SPECIFIC CHARACTERISTICS
Despite changes in recent years, Burundi is essentially an agricultural country, with agriculture and animal husbandry continuing to contribute around 30-50 percent of Gross Domestic Product and 50-60 percent of export revenues.
Socio-economic activities depend largely on soil quality, temperature, and precipitation in relevant climatic and ecological areas, with affected sectors including energy, agriculture and livestock, water resources, natural ecosystems, landscapes, tourism, and health.
III. CURRENT GREENHOUSE GAS-INDUCED SITUATION
Over the past 50 years, average temperatures have risen by approximately 1.6C. This has been accompanied by highly unpredictable weather, including droughts and torrential rainfall, causing soil erosion and damage to tea and coffee production. As a result, agriculture has shifted towards livestock, focusing on poultry, goats, and cattle.
Some of these issues have been alleviated due to good land management of hillsides and an aggressive AU-backed reforestation programme beginning in 2037. Decentralisation of infrastructure and energy production has also increased the country's resilience to climate shocks.
Overall, however, Burundi is suffering greatly from climate change. The country's educated young are emigrating at an accelerating rate, attracted by better opportunities elsewhere. Displacement of populations has aggravated tensions between Hutu and Tutsis, although thankfully no large-scale violence has broken out yet.
Climate change income transfers via the United Nations Carbon Tax programme have mostly been funneled into dronedrops of food and manufactured goods. These have helped to reduce extreme poverty levels by almost half, although at the expense of depressing the local economy. That said, there have been some notable economic successes, including the remote tourism project at Kibira National Park and the Distributed Technical College of Gitega.
IV. MITIGATION AND ADAPTATION STRATEGIES
It is clear that the rate of climate change exceeds the ability for humans to adapt in Burundi. While technical solutions may well exist to mitigate some effects, money is simply not available to repair extant damage to ecosystems, let alone future damage. Lake Tanganyika is a case in point. Water surface temperatures have increased by 1.9C in the past 160 years, lowering productivity significantly and causing a dramatic loss in biodiversity.
Across Burundi, soil quality and water availability is expected to catastrophically deteriorate in the next ten to 20 years, and it is unlikely that funds will be available to rescue the land; instead, global funds are shifting towards intensive farming in more benign ecosystems. As a result, agriculture and livestock production and exports will continue to suffer, even with the introduction of hardier tweaked crops and high-level automation.
A wholesale shift towards tourism accompanied by targeted spending on education is likely to be the only route for Burundi to increase quality of life and life expectancy, both of which have stalled for the past 20 years despite advances in technology and increases in health spending.
Looking farther ahead, global climate change mitigation strategies including ongoing carbon sequestration efforts, stratospheric sulphur aerosols, ocean iron fertilisation, and the proposed sunshade project show some promise in reducing temperatures on a 50-100 year timescale, but their impact on local ecosystems in Burundi remains extremely unpredictable. For this reason, we believe there is a strong argument for increased climate change income transfers under the Khartoum Accords.