Continuous HIV/AIDS community education – In 2007, community leaders, medical personnel and peer educators in all six districts of Rutana Province were trained to provide community education in HIV/AIDS prevention. By the second year, more people were seeking VCT services, and by the third year, the uptake was as high as 90% in some of the income generation groups.
Institutional support – Important stakeholders, including provincial government representatives, religious leaders and health institutions, recognised the importance of HIV/AIDS education and ARV treatment to the survival and socioeconomic wellbeing of the entire household. The provincial governor helped to hold the implementing partners accountable to their commitments, even in the physical absence of a the Legatum Foundation staff member in Burundi.
Economic development – The successful Pineapple Plantation Initiative was created as a group IGA to support families affected by HIV/AIDS and returnees previously displaced by the country’s civil war. This Initiative has resulted in a micro-economy in the host community and along the road to Gitega and Bujumbura, where middlemen purchase the fruits for resale in the larger markets.
Weather and disease – One of the biggest challenges was the unpredictable rain pattern that led to crop failure and drought in Bukemba and Gitenga districts, where Umuryango Association and SAN’s agriculture programmes respectively took place. Additionally, an outbreak of foot and mouth disease led to the loss of goats in Gihoro District.
Repatriation of refugees – In 2008 and 2009, an unexpected influx of Burundians returning from closed refugee camps in Tanzania flooded Rutana Province. Significantly poorer than the already impoverished residents of Rutana, the returnees challenged the implementers’ identification and selection of community members to receive help.
Overwhelmed health personnel and inadequate equipment – Improved HIV sensitisation has increased the amount of people seeking to know their HIV status. The demand for testing has overwhelmed some VCT centre staff, leading them to resign.
Lack of synergy among implementers – A thriving community of practice in which implementers could share information, apply best practices, and benefit from economies of scale wherever possible would have resulted in better care of beneficiaries and delivery of services in each community.