When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.


Migrant Lives

MV-Liemba, How An Iconic World War I Battleship Floated Into Burundi Crisis

KIGOMA — The outline of the MV-Liemba looms on the horizon. The oldest ferry in the world drops anchor off the coast of Kagunga, a Tanzanian village just three miles from Burundi's border. Around 600 Burundian passengers are subsequently brought on board after arriving from the shore on small fishing boats. The MV-Liemba will steam off in the direction of Kigoma, its home port in Tanzania, some 25 miles away.

No downtime is allowed: Kagunga's humanitarian crisis has grown worse over the years with the massive influx of migrants. The village has faced constant water shortages, as well as multiple health epidemics. More than 50,000 refugees have already landed in Kagunga since the beginning of political tensions in Burundi after Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza announced in April that he will be running for a third term in apparent violation of the constitution. A failed coup attempt and violent demonstrations have left at least 20 people dead.

Watch VideoShow less

In Burundi, Where Anti-Government Protests Are Tamed With Guns

BUJUMBURA — When she goes out alone of Burundi's capital, Valerie has started wearing trousers in case she has to run or is dragged to the ground. On this day, Bujumbura is sunny with a light breeze coming off Lake Tanganyika — still her heart is beating fast.

Valerie (not her real name) is always bracing herself for the "violence and blows" she anticipates will come from security forces, just like the last protest she attended, when women who were already on the ground were kicked in the face, the back, all over their bodies.

Keep reading...Show less

Tis The Season: What The World Is Drinking

(Fa la la la la, la la la la....)

For many corners of the world, the holidays are arriving. And though drinks of course are flowing all over the world, all year long, we wanted to take this moment to look around and raise our glass to 11 places and their spirits of choice.

The Wine and Spirit Research publish a list on global alcohol consumption annually and these figures both reinforce and contradict some of the most popular clichés about people’s drinking habits.

Keep reading...Show less

City Garbage Is The Poor Farmer's Fertilizer in Burundi

NGOZI — In the north of Burundi, only the wealthiest farmers have the means to buy state-subsidized fertilizer. Poorer farmers make do with the garbage they can collect in the city — to the great delight of urban dwellers.

Nsengimana Evariste is a poor pygmy farmer who collects garbage in the city of Ngozi. If he wants to fertilize his fields, as the agricultural advisors who criss-cross the country’s hills have been advising for the past two years, he has no other choice. Though the Ministry of Agriculture does provide a 40% subsidy on chemical fertilizers for the first agricultural season, a 25-kilo sack of fertilizer still costs around $20.

“I can't afford buying manure,” he says. “I have a small field, which doesn’t even provide me with enough to eat, so you can understand that I’m not going to find something to sell in order to pay for fertilizer.”

Keep reading...Show less
Gabby Bugaga

Trees For Minerals: A Green Path To Make Burundi's Mining Business Sustainable

BUTIHINDA – Here in the northeastern mining region of Burundi, some green is starting to grow again. Having caused rampant deforestation and drought, mining companies are from now on required to plant trees in the areas they exploit.

Along the dusty road leading to Kamaramagambo, we can see several rocky slopes that for the first time in memory now have patches of green on them. Here and there, Eucalyptus trees are bringing back some green to the devastated mining zones.

Watch VideoShow less
Gabby Bugaga

Flood And Famine: Turning African Swamps Into Fertile Farmland

In Burundi, what was once marshland is now yielding crops each harvest season.

The Cankuzo and Ruyigi marshes have been drained, and the farmers of eastern Burundi are starting to smile again.

For years, the small, dried-up tracks of land left this territory with a shortage of food and income. But the swamps have now been turned into fertile soil to plant new crops and reap much more plentiful harvests.

Watch VideoShow less
Eric Nshemezimana

Banana-Based Moonshine Microbrew Is A Killer In Burundi

NGOZI – In the north of Burundi, new brands of “beer” have sprouted recently. They are produced locally in a multitude of small breweries or imported from neighboring countries in little plastic bags.

These alcoholic beverages are three times less expensive than normal brews – $0.30 for 50ml – and very strong, containing up to 40% alcohol compared to the usual 5-7%.

Watch VideoShow less
Eric Nshemezimana

A Special Weaving Technique Helping Pygmies Overcome Ethnic Hatred

KAYANZA – It seemed like such a small thing when it began nearly a year ago here in northern Burundi: Pygmies would share their unique weaving techniques to the ethnic Hutus and Tutsis of the Kayanza province.

But learning to weave carpets, nets, handbags, even tables and chairs…and for free...has earned unexpected waves of good will for for Pygmies from peoples who had historically ignored and even mistreated them.

Watch VideoShow less
Silvère Hicuburundi

Trying And Failing To Stamp Out Corruption In Africa

In the nation of Burundi, serious efforts are being made to make businesses more attractive to outside investors. Still, it ranks near the very bottom of global transparency rankings.

BUJUMBURA - Thanks to its recent regulatory reforms, Burundi has done a lot to facilitate business and job creation. So much so that it has been named as one of the World Bank Doing Business Report Top 10 most improved economies for the second straight year.

Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most corrupt countries in the World, ranked 12th in the 2012 Transparency International index. Corruption, which is particularly rife in the public tendering process, wipes out the government’s efforts to make the country attractive for investors.

Watch VideoShow less
Stany Ngendakumana

Teenage Pregnancies Spinning Out Of Control In Burundi

Full statistics aren't yet available -- but even with partial numbers, it is clear that teen pregnancies are on the rise in Burundi.

So far this year, 30 students from the Budahunga communal school in the Kirundo province have already been expelled for being pregnant. Ten others from two private schools of Bujumbura have suffered the same fate. The Bafashebige coalition, an organization promoting education for all, says the situation is spiraling out of control, and won't get better until teenagers start using condoms.

Watch VideoShow less
Gabby Bugaga and Stany Ngendakumana

The 'Offering Economy' Of Burundi, Where Family Rites Are Financial Burdens

In Burundi, birthdays, baptisms and burial ceremonies tend to be marked with big family gatherings. Guests are expected to help out by offering, for example, a case of beer. For families with modest incomes, the price of so much partying is often untenabl

BUJUMBURA – Family festivities are a central feature of life in Burundi. But they're also financially taxing, as families are expected to contribute to each and every gathering – even when they simply can't afford it.

"I have a list of more than 150 people who contributed at my mother's burial. And so I have to spend money every time I receive one of their invitations," says a determined yet discouraged civil servant in the Gihosha district of Bujumbura, the capital of the central African nation. This family head earns less than $200 per month. More than 30% of that money goes to funding family festivities. The man makes those contributions reluctantly, but with one single conviction: that they are central to the traditional culture of encounters and solidarity in Burundi.

Watch VideoShow less
Philipp Hedemann

His Head Swimming In Hash, A Former Child Soldier In Burundi Recalls His Many Kills

Seven years after Burundi’s civil war came to an end, Sylvère Ndayishimiye, a former child soldier forced into action by the rebel FNL army, is still trying to shake his memories of murder and mayhem. He made his first kill with a knife – straight to the

BURURI -- Sylvère Ndayishimiye, his gaze clouded from the joints he smokes, stares ahead blankly as he tells his story.

"There was terror in his eyes. He was screaming for mercy," Ndayishimiye recalls. "I rammed the knife into his heart. That was the first time I killed. There were about 35 more times after that, but I was allowed to shoot them with a Kalashnikov so it wasn't so bad."

Watch VideoShow less