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

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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.

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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.

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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)

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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

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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.

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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

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