Burundi flooding: homes and livelihoods washed away

Temporary shelters in one of the camps built by the Burundian Red Cross (BRC) and International Organization for Migration camp (IOM) for those displaced by flood waters. Photo taken by Irénée Nduwayezu/Concern Worldwide.
Temporary shelters in one of the camps built by the Burundian Red Cross (BRC) and International Organization for Migration camp (IOM) for those displaced by flood waters. Photo taken by Irénée Nduwayezu/Concern Worldwide.

Close to the border of Democratic Republic of Congo lies Gatumba, a region in western Burundi near the capital city of Bujumbura. Recently heavy rains, amplified by the El Niño effect, caused the river Rusizi to burst its banks. The results were serious for nearby communities.

In total, 755 homes were affected by the flooding in June: it washed away houses, destroyed livelihoods and caused enormous difficulty for those attempting to travel by road to safety.

Solange Nijimbere’s home was among the most vulnerable households situated on the edge of the marshes. Surrounded by her two young daughters at the refugee camp that they now call home, she recounts the first day of flooding:

“[The] water level rose up to our beds, my husband [Désiré] and I were trying to save our possessions by bailing out the water using a bucket.”

We have lost everything in the flood

Solange Nijimbere
Solange leans against her temporary shelter with her two young daughters Precia and Jessica.  Photo taken by Irénée Nduwayezu/Concern Worldwide.
Solange leans against her temporary shelter with her two young daughters Precia and Jessica. Photo taken by Irénée Nduwayezu/Concern Worldwide.

Gradually, the growing flood undermined the structure of their two-bedroom mud house until sadly their home and surrounding cassava fields were deluged by the heavy flood waters. Important documents, such as their birth certificates, were lost. All chances of maintaining their livelihood were shattered.

Finally, with no viable options remaining, they left for the Burundian Red Cross (BRC) andInternational Organization for Migration camp (IOM).

“We have lost everything in this flood, we were forced to leave our village where we could not live anymore to come to this camp,” said Solange.

Solange’s village one month on from the flooding, houses were washed away and rendered uninhabitable by flood waters. Photo taken by Irénée Nduwayezu/Concern Worldwide.
Solange’s village one month on from the flooding, houses were washed away and rendered uninhabitable by flood waters. Photo taken by Irénée Nduwayezu/Concern Worldwide.

Our response

Concern, in co-ordination with other NGOs is responding to the needs of families like Solange’s by providing shelter, food and non-food item kits. Through the START network (a multi-donor pooled rapid response fund supporting a network of NGOs who respond to emergencies), and Concern general donations, we were able to distribute 755 non-food item kits to displaced households to compensate for the loss of their household items.

These kits contain covers, mosquito nets, buckets, clothes, kitchen sets and solar lamps. Having lost her home, belongings and livelihood, Solange was relieved to receive this kit and is thankful to Concern and our donors for the help she received.

Concern staff distributing non-food item kits to those displaced by the flooding in Gatumba. Photo taken by Irénée Nduwayezu/Concern Worldwide.
Concern staff distributing non-food item kits to those displaced by the flooding in Gatumba. Photo taken by Irénée Nduwayezu/Concern Worldwide.

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