‘People are upset that aid may be withdrawn’
MP meets villagers in Burundi
FAMILIES living in abject poverty, darkness and bleak conditions.
MP Malcolm Bruce experienced firsthand people surviving not just on the edge of existence, but what he described as “over the edge”.
And t h e p o l i t i c i a n mus t n o w help decided whether people in Burundi will have their support from the UK cut.
The Gordon MP, chairman of Westminster’s International Development Select Committee, visited the country along with surrounding nations including Rwanda.
He made the trip overseas as part of his committee’s investigations into international aid and which communities would continue to get financial support.
And he stayed with a family-of-seven in a mud hut for the night to experience the poverty people live in.
He stayed with Innocent and Consolat Nyandwi and their five children – Leance, Pacific, Xavier, Bella and John – as well as an interpreter.
And he joined them for their main meal of the day – a plate of rice, beans and chopped cabbage.
Mr Bruce said the meal was served on two plates, one for the adults and one for the children.
He said: “They were extremely poor. There was a water pump for the village and a school, but not everybody is able to afford to go.
“The children were under-nourished. Their income was about 20p per day.
“But they said to me that if they didn’t have support things would be even worse.
“The house I stayed in was a mud hut with a tin roof and a pit latrine. There was no water and no power, there was an earth floor and the had platform beds with mats – but no mattresses.
“It was dark inside from about 6pm to 6am. It was pretty bleak existence.”
Sweden has already withdrawn its funding for Burundi – and the UK is set to follow this year.
The other nations Mr Bruce visited, along with other committee members, are still receiving aid.
Although he said both he and the committee still had to reach a decision, Mr Bruce said: “People said to me they were very disappointed that the UK was withdrawing support.
“Rwanda is 17 years out of civil war and receives twice as much.