A visit to the Batwa community


The Batwa, also known as the Twa, are pygmies and are often seen as the oldest inhabitants of the Great Lake area in central Africa. Unusually for Pygmies, who generally trade meat for agricultural products, iron and pottery, the Batwa are themselves potters. This craft is now synonymous with their ethnic identity. The men collect and carry the clay to the women, who then make the pots and fire them before they are sold. The Batwa community has limited representation in the local and national government. Because of their pygmy lineage they continue to experience ethnic prejudice, discrimination, violence and general exclusion from society.

One of our projects in Burundi also focuses on the Batwa community - the G50 approach - and is responsible for both the financial and social inclusion of the Batwa in the broader community. By organizing through networks at community level through a platform, the Batwa can gain access to basic financial services, financial education and social services. This way they strengthen their position within the community and they can look for sustainable solutions to ensure food security and create the right farming conditions for this to happen.

Ciza (25) and Mugisha (20) live with their daughter Bikorimana (2) and their son Bitangimana (1) in a hut of straw in Gitega - a place in central Burundi where the G50-approach project is carried out among others. Ciza goes every day to look for clay and takes it home for Mugisha and her mother, so that they can make pots. They want to sell these pots. Usually they have to go very far to the market for that. They prefer to buy food from the money. On their own land they grow bananas, corn and beans. Thanks to the artificial fertilizer they can use now, they have a better yield of their harvest.

"It is a very social project, everyone helps each other. We have also learned about family planning and hygiene. Showing respect for each other and dealing with one another is very important and we notice that everything is changing within our community. We often felt very alone, but because of this new project we are proud that we can take care of ourselves. We really belong to it now. "

Minani (50) is head of the project. His wife Janine is 40 years old. She is also very good at making the pots. It is never certain that she can sell a lot, but it helps a lot if it succeeds. Then they can save some money again. Janine also works a lot on the land. Minani and Janine are a composite family - as two singles they are now bringing up six children together. Janine likes it when there is a visit in the village, they hardly ever see other people.

The project G50 approach continues until June 2018.