‘Peo­ple are up­set that aid may be with­drawn’

MP meets vil­lagers in Bu­rundi

Evening Express (Extra Edition) - - FAMILY MEMORIES - By Neil Evans

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.

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