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Traders feel the pinch as political crisis in Burundi cripples economy 0

The crisis that erupted in Burundi in April 2015 following President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to seek a controversial third term has claimed more than 400 lives and caused more than 230,000 people to flee the country, according to the United Nations.

But it isn’t just citizens who have suffered — the economy is in a bad way too.

Alexandre Nyabenda works as a trader in a shop in Cibitoke, one of the so-called contested areas of the capital Bujumbura, which are really just the hotbeds of opposition to Nkurunziza that have seen most political unrest.

Nyabenda, who has been working there for the past six years, said that trade had really suffered as a result of the instability.

“Before the crisis … I was taking in around 120,000 francs ($76 dollars) of revenue each day,” he said. “Since April 2015, just to get 40,000 francs ($25) a day has been a real struggle.”

The fall is explained by the fact that so many customers fled the country as Burundi descended into violence. Those who have stayed don’t have the same purchasing power so the quantity of goods sold has markedly declined.

“A father who was buying two kilos of rice and two kilos of beans every day to feed his five children and his wife is now buying only half a kilo because his domestic helper, his wife and his children have fled into exile,” explained Nyabenda.

Things are even worse for Sinkazi Kevin, 32, a coal seller in Cibitoke who has gone practically bankrupt due to the tough times.

“Before this crisis I was selling at least six to 10 sacks of coal a day, but now I’m only selling one,” Kevin said, clearly angry. “There are no buyers! People have fled, and restaurant owners who were good potential clients before are hardly doing any business now, or have even closed their restaurants.”

Micheella Kanyana was forced to close her small restaurant in Cibitoke because the unrest and insecurity was too great to carry on.

Continue reading on The East African

by Désiré Nimubona 

Photo Credits The East African/Esdras Ndikunama/AFP

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