October 1, 2019

With No Other Jobs, 94% Burundians Turn To Subsistence Farming – Study Finds


President Pierre Nkurunziza (in white Jersey) prays for potatoes in January 2018. He has conducted similar sessions for other crops. The ILO modelling shows less than 5% of the working age Burundians are employed by the mainstream economy

The vast majority of working-age Burundians are depending on themselves to survive as their economy is unable to generate jobs for its people, a new study shows.

Out of the 10.8m population, 94.7 percent of workers are “self-employed”, according to data analyzed by German firm Statista.

With this level, it makes Burundi with the highest rate globally of a people struggling on their own.

“This is an indicator of the prevalence of subsistence farming and people working without pay for their family businesses (also counted as self-employed in the data),” argues Statista.

The firms analysis is based on models generated by the International Labour Organization (ILO), which looked at how employment fairs in poor and rich nations.

Since mid 2015, following failed coup attempt, up to 300,000 Burundians are refugees in neighboring countries. Inside Burundi, a recent UN report said the country was experiencing a “malaria epidemic”.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said 5.7 million cases of malaria had been recorded in Burundi in 2019 – a figure roughly equal to half its entire population. 1,801 Burundians died from the mosquito-born disease between January 1 and July 21.

Globally, only 12.4 percent of workers are self-employed on average in high-income economies while in low-income economies, this figure rises to 81.9 percent.

In Qatar and Kuwait, this number was even lower at 1.7 percent and 0.4 percent respectively. This shows there are identified jobs for nearly everyone in these countries.

They are followed the UAE, the U.S., Germany, UK, France and Japan – are all below 20 percent.

China, however, despite being the 2nd biggest economy, has a large portion of its working age population who have to depend on themselves to make ends meet. 46.9% of Chinese workers are self-employed.

Burundi, for its part, is followed by Central African Republic, another country where a large portion of it has been engulfed in conflict. 94.6 percent of workers have to struggle on their own.

Countries with above 90% rate of self-employment are all in Africa, including South Sudan (90%), which is a member of the East African Community (EAC).

Other EAC members have varying rates, but all with more than 60% of their working age group having to fend for themselves: Kenya 61.5%, Rwanda 68.7%, Uganda 78.3% and Tanzania 85.5%.

Over 60 percent of east Africans are living out there on their own.


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