We landed early this morning in Burundi.  Everyone is tired at this point.  We laughed a bit because, as Paul said, the airport looks exactly like the rebel base on the Ice Planet Hoth


Burundi has a beautiful beach.  It is shattered by civil war.  The size of family land has gone from 2 hectares per family to 0.2 in the last 10 years.  3% of people are on the electrical grid.  The people are wonderful.


We got a briefing from the country office on needs, challenges and opportunities.  We heard about their work bringing together three different universities, creating a new model of innovation lab, and connecting with issues of agriculture and power.IMG_1051

We also learned that some of the recent operational research conducted by the office, in the innovation lab, showed that people in rural Burundi spend upwards of 15% of their daily earnings on keeping their mobile phone electrically charged.   That’s two months of your salary every year just to keep your iPhone alive.


Alfred moved from the UNICEF Uganda lab to this office – working with Chelsea and the rest of the team they have set up the Burundi Lab (in this container)


Which looks like a lab – strange things strewn around – whiteboards everywhere.   We nod in approval.IMG_1064

It’s huge.   On one side, students from universities are hard at work on adapting RapidSMS for neonatal / first 1000 days of life monitoring.  On the other, we get a presentation


Alfred shows us the lab concept statement – taken from the structure of the innovation lab DIY guideIMG_1073

And finally, a potential private sector partner gives us a ride on his power-bike.  Electricity is going to be a huge issue here.


We are going upcountry tomorrow.  We may not have internet, so please don’t be too sad if there is no blog post – we’ll put it up the next day.

Christopher Fabian

7 March, 2013

Bujumbura, Burundi

"In a place this lush and green, how can people be malnourished?" (#uinnovate day 5, pt. 1)
No one can ignore a million people. Day 3 of #uinnovate Labs tour