Inventory of the National Archives of Burundi (EAP684)

Aims and objectives

This pilot project will survey the National Archives of Burundi to provide information on the documents that are actually endangered. This inventory of the vulnerable and valuable documents will then inform the design of a major digitisation project of the documents in order to ensure their preservation. Archival training will be provided to staff at the National Archives who are responsible for the management of the records.

The Library and Archives contain valuable historical and administrative collections which focus on the lives of Burundians and administrative organisations dating back to 1850. The documents are important for researchers, students and historians.

The physical condition of the documents varies from very poor to fair, with many documents in ruins and endangered. There is concern within the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture about the state of decomposition of the documents and the subsequent loss of irreplaceable or valuable documents.

There will be a particular emphasis on archives that contain:

  • Documents on chieftancies and succession;

    Judicial procedures and judgments;

    Border disputes and resolutions;

    Systems of traditional marriage records;

    Documentation of estate and litigation;

    Official speeches;

    Correspondence of national and international importance (official communications between Burundi and Germany, between Burundi and Belgium, and diplomatic contacts with other countries);

    Administrative Records covering the colonial period.


The documents mentioned above are in danger because their storage conditions are very poor: excess moisture, stacked in piles, lack of ventilation, no light and no staff trained in records management.

This pilot project has several very important aims: a process of staff training will be initiated, in the areas of archival management and on digitisation and dissemination as a means of preserving collections. The current state of preservation will be assessed and the most vulnerable and important documents identified and an inventory complied. Some limited digitisation will be undertaken and an organisational plan developed to prepare for a major future digitisation project.


There was a five-day training session for staff at the Burundi National Archives and Library Services. A partial inventory of the Archives Governor of Rwanda Urundi kept in the National Archives of Burundi was carried out over a six-month period. Two research tools were developed namely an inventory and partial Guide for the National Archives of Burundi: The Governors of Ruanda Urundi Archives’ Funds. Three DVD-ROM sample folders were produced and sent to the Burundi National Archives, libraries and the British Library.

The records copied by this project have been catalogued as:

A PDF inventory of the archive can be downloaded here.