Dutch public-private consortium works on development in Burundi

Gepubliceerd op
2 oktober 2012

Achmea, Wageningen UR and HealthNet TPO join forces in an innovative project that contributes to development in Burundi.

This partnership combines the improvement of health care, the introduction of new farming methods and increased economic resilience. The Achmea Foundation has provided an initial budget of almost €500.000 for this project. The partners have been invited by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs to submit a proposal to “Agentschap NL” that may complement the budget substantially.

Realization of preconditions for reconstruction

Burundi is one of the poorest countries in the world and has little access to education and health care. The country suffers from food shortages, deforestation, drought, HIV/AIDS and the aftermath of years of civil war. Food security, economic self-reliance and good health are preconditions in order to be able to rebuild the country. Achmea (large Dutch insurance company), Wageningen UR (Dutch University) and HealthNet TPO developed an elaborated project that helps realize these conditions. By introducing micro-insurance schemes for crops and medical costs, barriers to development are being removed. It enables the rural population to use new farming techniques and thereby increase their revenues without taking unbearable risks. Simultaneously work is being done to provide accessible and qualitative health care.

Sustainable increase of production

In Burundi agricultural productivity is still very low. That is due to many factors. Researcher Christy van Beek from Alterra Wageningen UR says “There is not one factor that explains the low productivity. To increase productivity we need an integrated approach, including the improvement of agronomic practices, but also seeds, soil quality and choice of crops. We do that in a participatory manner. Changes should fit the local context and therefore it is extremely important to work together with local organizations and farmers. In this project together with local organizations and farmers, we compose packages of measures that lead to a sustainable increase in production. Ultimately the farmers select the package that best suits their individual needs”.

Integrated approach

With the increased income from agricultural activities it is possible for farmers in Burundi to insure themselves against health costs. Poor health increases poverty, it is therefore important to work simultaneously on qualitative and accessible health care, including the most vulnerable groups. HealthNet TPO will be working on improving the health system, while Achmea will apply its expertise in setting up the insurance scheme. Willem van Duin, Chairman of the Board of Achmea: “Problems in Burundi are so comprehensive that an integrated approach is necessary. I am therefore very pleased that we can cooperate with HealthNet TPO and Wageningen UR and contributing to the rehabilitation of the country. By joining our forces we can really make a difference”.  The goal is to have 75,000 people insured per 1 September 2015. When the pilot phase is successful, the project will be rolled out to several other communities and provinces. Moreover, with the possible contribution of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the package can be expanded with complementary services.

Cooperative principles

Achmea has been supporting micro-insurance projects in developing countries for many years now, by providing knowledge and experience of its own employees and through financial contributions from the Achmea Foundation. “This cooperative insurance model perfectly matches the way we have been operating in the Netherlands for the past 200 years”, says Willem van Duin. “In the Netherlands, it is considered common that you insure yourself in case of adversity. In many developing countries, this is not so common. Being insured brings financial security that enables people to build a better future. I am proud that we – Achmea – can contribute to that.” Next to this, Willem van de Put, director HealthNet TPO states that this model can be applied to other fragile states as well: “we are already doing so in Cambodia, South Sudan and Afghanistan. After years of violence and oppression the population no longer trusts governments, but through this approach people are able to work on building institutions that are essential for sustainable development.”

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