Cassien Ndikuriyo

Cassien started Help Channel Burundi to support war-ravaged communities to survive in the short-term and flourish in the long-term, as well as restore and protect the local environment.

This is done through food aid and cash-for-work initiatives as well as large-scale reforestation work. So far, lives have been saved and five million trees planted.

Location: Burundi

Sector: Environmental Sustainability

Year Selected: 2009

Cassien is combining research and business know-how to fulfil what he believes is a God-given calling to bring transformation to communities struggling to overcome the effects of war and poverty.

He is a business graduate, and lives and works in Burundi.

Burundi is a country where poverty has been exacerbated by more than a decade of war and unrest. As estimated seven in every 10 Burundians live below the poverty line.

In the past, many in Burundi relied on agriculture for food and income, but land has been devastated by repeated drought and conflict and many communities have been left fully reliant on food aid.

Through research, Cassien identified deforestation as a particular problem. Swathes of forests were cleared during conflict, disrupting the region's micro-climate. To help restore the local environment and sustain struggling communities, Cassien founded Help Channel Burundi.

Cassien's project has three aims. Firstly, he wants to see people survive in the short-term. So, to help prevent people dying of malnutrition he distributes food aid to those who need it the most.

To transform Burundi in the long-term, Cassien's project is reversing deforestation by facilitating the planting of trees. Five million have been planted so far, and this is just the start.

Trees are planted by communities themselves, mobilised and advised by Cassien and his team. Some of the planting is achieved through cash-for-work initiatives, giving people an income whilst restoring the local environment.

Furthermore, the project equips communities with knowledge in sustainable forest management, future-proofing this amazing work.

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