Burundi economic
The Central Market in the capital Bujumbura has been severely hit by the surge in violence in Burundi Elsa Buchanan for IBTimes UK

At the central market in Bujumbura, Pascasie Habonimana sells her uburobe – cassava bread wrapped in banana tree leaves – every day of the week, but deplores the lack of customers.

The 45-year-old has seen her profits halve as months of violence in Burundi have had disastrous impacts on everyday citizens, with dozens killed in street protests in the run-up the the election of President Pierre Nkurunziza, who secured a controversial third term last week.

"I used to make more than 20,000 Fbu per day (£8, $12.5, €7) but now, if I am lucky, I can only make up to 10,000. That has brought a lot of poverty in my household," the mother of 11 told IBTimes UK.

"Now my children only eat once a day, I can only afford to prepare some cassava, bread and vegetables."

Burundi economic
Pascasie Habonimana, 45, whose livelihood depends on the sale of her uburobe, fears she will no longer be able to feed her children Elsa Buchanan for IBTimes UK

While Habonimana says she hoped to set up or join a women's cooperative, she says insecurity and a lack of initial funding means she can only rely on uburobe sales to feed her children.

Burundi economic
Pascasie Habonimana says her income has been halved since April, despite the fact she sells her cassava bread every day (IBTimes UK/Elsa Buchanan]

"Because we have become so poor, this year, I think my children won't be able to go to school," she said.

Schools in Burundi have reopened since the violence started rocking the country in April, but Habonimana says she will no longer be able to afford both the school fees and her children's food.

"How can I send them to school with an empty stomach? If they don't eat, they can't go on and use their brains," she added.

Sitting next to her and picking through the lenga-lenga and amaranth leaves she tries to sell, Consa, 75, shakes her head, before showing her empty bag.

In Rohero I, around the Quartier INSS, Reverien, 28, walks around the stalls of his Fido Dido store – "one of the first alimentation stores to open in Bujumbura", but no one is buying the fresh pastries sold in little plastic bags.

Burundi economic
Consa, 75, finds it difficult to sell her amaranth leaves – a staple in Burundi (IBTimes UK/Elsa Buchanan]

"Compared to the last few months, there has been a big change here," he told IBTimes UK. "We've seen a huge reduction, I can easily say that we've lost up to 25% per day."

Burundi economic
The Fido Dido grocery store is facing a dramatic reduction in the number of its customers (IBTimes UK/Elsa Buchanan]

Normally, Reverien explains, the stock is replaced nearly every day. Now, he claims, many products have been "sitting there since April".

Another issue is that he is finding it increasingly difficult to find products to buy – either from upcountry or from Tanzania, for instance.

Burundi economic
Diomede, 35, fears he might lose his job as the result of the economic slowdown IBTimes UK/Elsa Buchanan

Some merchandise that attracted customers to the store, such as chocolates from Europe, wines and a range of biscuits, can no longer be found, explains his colleague Diomede, 35.

Does he believe the store will have to close? Maybe.

"For now, there is no plan to change the way we work here, but we will have to endure what ever happens," Diomede said. This will also mean that Emelyne, 28, the cashier could lose her job.

For hotels around the capital too, the crisis has had devastating impacts. Once the hub of the Netherlands Army in Bujumbura – the entire hotel housed the troops – the luxury 30-room Safari Gate Hotel is now almost silent.

"Before the crisis, there were many customers, the hotel was fully booked. Now we have, on average, between four and 10 people staying here," Desire, a receptionist, explained.

Burundi economic
For hotels around the capital, such as the Safari Gate, the crisis has had a devastating impact IBTimes UK/Elsa Buchanan

According to a hotel owner, around 80% of hotel personnel in the capital have either lost their jobs or had their working hours cut down. The same applies to restaurant employees.

Geny's, a bar-restaurant that is located by the popular Lake Tanganyika sandy beach near Bujumbura's airport, was closed on a Sunday.

Burundi economic
Some of the bar-restaurants along the popular Lake Tanganyika sandy beach have also had to close IBTimes UK/Elsa Buchanan

Eloge, a seasoned customer at the restaurant that was popular with both locals and foreigners, said he could not believe the place was closed during a weekend.

"I bring my fiancée here. It's calm and a very romantic place, and everyone knows that. During weekends, you could barely walk between tables," he said.

"Who says tourism, says currency," Desire from the Safari Gate said, pointing to the fact that, on that day, the Burundian Franc was trading 1,800 to 1,940 for one dollar.

Now, banks close at 3pm, Desire complains. Three hours before the closing time displayed on the door.

"There are less customers, and because of the insecurity, we cannot stay open later," a cashier at a Kenya Commercial Bank branch explained. "We can be attacked, targeted for our money or our lives."

Other well-known hangout hubs, the Botanica Hotel on Boulevard de l'Uprona and nightclub Havana and Rakka Night Club in Rohero Commune, used to be steaming with partygoers on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Burundi economic
Rakka Night Club in Rohero Commune is no longer open as often as it was (IBTimes UK/Elsa Buchanan]

Now, both places are rarely open – young Burundians and expats want to have fun but customers fail to turn up – deplores Bobo, a young man who used to go out clubbing there.

Once President Nkurunziza forms his government, its priority will be to boost production, adviser Willy Nyamitwe told IBTimes UK in an exclusive interview.

"We already have plans to revive the economy, after we faced a number of shocks including this crisis, a financial market implosion and weather-related catastrophes that pushed us to take a step back and change the orientation of our policies," Nyamitwe said.

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