Last Updated: Thursday, 18 December 2014, 14:40 GMT

Burundi: Floods displace thousands north of Bujumbura

Publisher Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN)
Publication Date 14 April 2009
Cite as Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), Burundi: Floods displace thousands north of Bujumbura, 14 April 2009, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/49e6ef2cc.html [accessed 18 December 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

BUJUMBURA, 14 April 2009 (IRIN) - Rain-induced floods have displaced over 8,000 people in a commune north of Bujumbura, the Burundian capital, and damaged at least 1,200 houses as well as crops, an official has said.

"The rains have destroyed many houses and crops; others are still flooded," Moise Ndayisenga, the administrator of Buterere Commune, said.

More rain fell on 12 April in Buterere - a low-lying area - but the displacement and damage caused has not been fully assessed because some locations are still inaccessible, the official said.

At Maramvya, a settlement in Buterere, another downpour on 12 April displaced 450 households and destroyed at least 100 homes, he said, adding: "Half of Buterere Commune's population might become destitute."

Flood waters had reached areas that were previously unaffected, "even moving down a road leading to Bujumbura International Airport," he said.

Claude Niyonzima, one of those affected in Buterere, said water had risen to a depth of more than a metre, flooding homes: "The rains attacked the mud bricks of my house, turning them into watery paste before my house collapsed."

Sifa Nzeyimana, 36, a mother of three, said: "My old mattress, dishes, clothes and my cassava flour have been damaged by the rains."

The displaced have been depending on charity for shelter and food.

"I sought shelter from a friend. I am on good terms with my neighbours; one gives me this dish today and the other gives me another dish tomorrow; and we live like that," Nzeyimana said.

Sienu Ntakirutimana, another Buterere resident, said she had lost all her property, including a little money she had saved to feed her five children, who were now uncertain where the next meal would come from.

"Sometimes we get a little food from friends or neighbours, other times we spend the day or night without eating," she said.

Ntakirutimana said she had become separated from some of her children as they had not been able to find adequate shelter for the whole family: "I left four of my five children with other neighbours whose houses were not destroyed, though this is painful to me."

Poor drainage

Residents said the situation had been exacerbated by the absence of drainage channels. "The rains will cause more damage if no channels are built to let the water flow away," Emmanuel Nsengiyumva, another displaced person, said as he scooped water out of his home.

The nearby River Kinyankonge burst its banks, as it has in previous rainy seasons, causing more suffering to residents who have appealed for a bridge to be built over the river and for the digging of drains.

Jean Marie Sabushimike, a professor of geography at the University of Burundi, called for "an urgent plan for preventing such natural hazards".

In efforts to prevent an outbreak of waterborne diseases such as cholera and dysentery, Red Cross officials have been spraying Buterere villages, where pit latrines have been destroyed by the flood waters.

Government officials have also responded to the flooding in Buterere, with Immaculée Nahayo, minister for national solidarity, visiting the displaced and distributing maize flour, blankets and kitchen utensils.

Nahayo said the government would provide iron sheeting for those whose homes had been destroyed.

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