• Indigenous peoples in Burundi

    Indigenous peoples in Burundi

    There are 78,071 indigenous individuals in Burundi, or around 1% of the national population, according to the last census conducted in 2008.

Batwas in Burundi

The Batwa are the indigenous people of Burundi. A census conducted by UNIPROBA (Unissons-nous pour la Promotion des Batwa) in 2008 estimated the number of Batwa in Burundi to be 78,071 or approximately 1% of the population (Rapport sur la situation foncière des Batwa du Burundi, August 2006 - January 2008, Bujumbura, p16).

The Batwa live throughout the country’s provinces and speak the national language, Kirundi, with an accent that distinguishes them from other ethnic groups.

The Batwa have traditionally lived by hunting and gathering alongside the Tutsi and Hutu farmers and ranchers, who represent 15% and 84% of the population respectively.

The Batwa lack sufficient land on which to live and farm

No longer able to live by hunting and gathering, the Batwa are now demanding land on which to live and farm. The census conducted by UNIPROBA in 2008 showed that, of the 20,155 Batwa households in Burundi, 2,959 (14.7%) were landless. Of these landless households, 1,453 were working under a system of bonded labour, while the other 1,506 were living on borrowed land. Moreover, Batwa landowning households usually only have very small plots, often no more than 200 m2 .

Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Peoples

Some positive actions are being undertaken in Burundi, aimed at encouraging the political integration of the Batwa. This integration is the result of the implementation of a number of laws and regulations in force in Burundi, including the Arusha Accord of 28 August 2000, the National Constitution of 18 March 2005 and the 2010 Electoral Code, which explicitly recognise the protection and inclusion of minority ethnic groups within the general system of government (See Law No. 1/10 of 18 March 2005 implementing the Constitution of the Republic of Burundi).

The 2005 Constitution sets aside three seats in the National Assembly and two seats in the Senate for Batwa.


Burundi abstained from the vote on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007.

Yearly update

Read the 2019 yearbook article on indigenous peoples in Burundi to learn about major developments and events during 2018




IWGIA - International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs - is a global human rights organisation dedicated to promoting, protecting and defending indigenous peoples’ rights. Read more.

Indigenous World

IWGIA's global report, the Indigenous World, provides an update of the current situation for indigenous peoples worldwide. Read The Indigenous World.

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