5 days for Burundi

Lord McConnell

Tomorrow I start my Live Below the Line challenge for 2013.

LBTL is an innovative campaign, organised by the Global Poverty Project, which seeks to highlight the scandal of over 1 billion people living in extreme poverty – below $1.25 or £1 a day – and raise money for several charities.

After two successful efforts in 2011 and 2012, I am raising money this year for a small but significant project in Burundi where a local NGO is attempting to establish Youth Peace Clubs in every school, with the support of Peace Direct.

Burundi is officially one of the poorest countries in the world. Small – with a population of 8 million – and situated in that cluster of states around the Great Lakes which have seen more than their fair share of conflict, Burundi is moving on from the bitter and violent civil war of a decade ago towards a stable democracy and sustainable development.

I take part in Live Below The Line because it is an effective annual way to raise the issue of extreme poverty. This is the 21st Century. We have the resources, the technology, the finance, the mobility, and the knowledge to do almost anything. Yet over one billion people survive, or don’t, on less than a pound a day. Children die needlessly for want of clean water, basic food and nutrition, shelter and safety.

There are many causes of this: the history of exploitation by the developed world, exploitation and poor governance by post-colonial leaders, unfair trade and discrimination all play their part. But the worst conditions and the most vulnerable people are in states affected by conflict. Violence and instability leave families without basic protections, without stable access to land, work and shelter. And the children fare worst, despite being least responsible for the causes.

That is why I campaign for conflict affected and fragile states to be given a higher priority in international development, and why I have chosen this project – with its long term approach – to support this year.

I will not be living in anything like the conditions suffered by the good people of Burundi. My £1 a day will not cover electricity, transport or housing for example. But it will cover all food and drink.

There will be no coffee, milk or bread. No meat and none of my normal bad habits. It will be porridge, lentil soup and the odd cheap potato or banana for me until midnight Wednesday. But I will be thinking of those families where even this diet would be a luxury. And I’ll let you know how I get on.

To donate please go to https://www.livebelowtheline.com/me/jackmcconnell?lang=en

2 comments for “5 days for Burundi

  1. MilesJSD
    26/04/2013 at 8:26 pm

    “Sustainable” ?

    More vitally and lengest-term essential, how “sustainworthy” can Burundi become ?

    To illustrate:
    A carer and his/her caree in Britain are getting along, together on a weekly basis of 126 hours, on a total gross income of £600 per week (approx £300 each)
    which in terms of the professional-carer market is almost ideally sustainabl;e;

    however, the caree is wont to heating and re-heating cups of tea, milk and horlicks in his/her mocrowave oven and invariably both boiling them over and then leaving the mess to dry-out hard
    so that the carer has to spend twenty times more minutes than normal washing up these clogged-up cups and the revolving-plate from the microwave oven:

    and whilst this whole scenario appears “sustainable”
    it is no-way “sustainworthy”.
    Macro-economically, Earth-One’s longest-term ‘carrying-capacity’ being at most 3 billion human bodies (cetera paribus, see “How Many People Can Live On Planet Earth” TV documentary presenter David Attenborough)
    but Its short-term capacity being capable of ‘carrying’ up to four or five times that number (our World-Governance Leaders have already planned for the world-population to rise to 12 billion by 2050, but have not yet published How they will all be supported)

    it must be said that
    “currently 7 billion people is a sustainable number”

    the ‘burning’ Question is
    “How longest-term sustainworthy are such numbers ?”

  2. GaretHugHowell
    27/04/2013 at 9:15 am


    The only difference betweeen a Hutu and a Tutsi is the number cows they have got. they could actually xchange from being ethnic Hutu to ethnic Tutsi by buying one more cow.

    That is genetics for you.

    One of the most difficult problems of the region was nomadism, which became impossible
    with the settlement of land and ownership of it so that the nomads could not do their thing.

    The worst problem of all, of course was European colonialism. If I may say charity is big business and does such people no good at all, merely even more dependent on city and capital living.

    It may make Lord McConnell feel good but it does nothing for them thar’ Africans at all.
    It is better to give than to receive.

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