Exploring the Batwa Communities

Trip Start Oct 23, 2012
Trip End Nov 12, 2012

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Where I stayed
Hotel Club du Lac Tanganyika Bujumbura
Read my review - 3/5 stars
What I did
Batwa communities

Flag of Burundi  ,
Tuesday, October 30, 2012

This morning when I entered the dining room there were 3 new members at the table.  Two were Batwa representatives and local leaders in the community and another was the interpreter.  The Batwa people used to be forest people in Burundi and Rwanda. Today due to the deforestation for agricultural land the Batwa are forced to move to towns and change from hunters to farmers on sometimes borrowed lands. Like tenant farming in the US.  Batwa have been discriminated against for a long time, considered the lessor of the 3 tribes. Often taken advantage of and until  recently had no representation in local governments. Today the Batwa hold positions in the government.

Etienne and Everest provided history and discussions of the current 3 communities we were going to visit.

We drove up to the mountains to see the first of the three Batwa communities. This first community had some dirt brick houses and grass huts too.  These people are less fortunate as they have very limited land and virtually no water nearby.  Several other organizations have helped to build these people homes to improve their living conditions. 

The next two communities we visited are examples of how providing more land, a water source and a mill to grind the cassava root into flour or any other grain, changes their lives more quickly than the community in the mountains.

The Batwa people have many diversities facing them.  But they are enduring and there is hope as different NGO's provide better housing and better farming techniques to assist them. 

The current average life expectancy for the Batwa is only 40.  Very few have completed high school or have a University education.

There is a total of 86,000 Batwa in Burundi. 

I found it very sad that Burundi Batwa are being forced to change their known way of life because of the disappearance of the forest.   In the Congo there are still Batwa who can live deep within the forest because it's still there.  The forest provided all their needs including medicine. Today local Batwa are dying of unnecessary things simple because there is no access to medicine in the forest and no money for a doctor in town. 

We can only hope and pray that more help and solutions will be provided for these people as they learn to evolve into modern civilization. 

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Jeff on

That's all new info to me. Thanks for letting me know about these people. The pictures are really helpful and moving. Love , Jeff

Fred on

NPR did a story about the Batwa a couple of weeks ago. I forget which country, but the land they lived on was turned into a National Park. They were forced to leave the park and became homless.

Michael Spurzem on

Your travel blog is very interesting and informative. Thank you for keeping us up-to-date on your venture.

Julia on

What is Cassava?

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