It was the evening of 19 April when Burundi’s Ruzizi River started to overflow. It had been raining heavily for several days. Nearly 7,000 homes in the area surrounding the capital Bujumbura were flooded.
Thousands of families were forced from their homes – people who are already facing the effects of the coronavirus outbreak. More than 400 hectares of crops were destroyed, leaving people with very little food for the year ahead.
Tearfund and our partners were on hand to help.
In Gatumba city, more than 1,200 families were given cash vouchers to help them buy what they needed most.
‘The cash helped us very much,’ a young mother called Renilde told us. ‘We bought some food with the money. We were relieved – our children were starving. We really are grateful.’
Responding to needs
Vulnerable families were also provided with clothes, cooking items, blankets and soap. More than 800 women and girls received packs containing menstrual products.
When people face a disaster like this, they are more vulnerable to abuse.
To help stop the spread of coronavirus, we also set up handwashing facilities, including tippy-taps with bars of soap.
When people face a disaster like this, they are more vulnerable to abuse – particularly women and children living in temporary camps. As part of our response to these floods, we have been helping people understand the dangers of sexual and gender-based violence, and how to prevent it happening.
Across Burundi, 1.7 million people don’t have access to life’s essentials such as food or a permanent home. It’s a nation prone to the worst effects of the climate crisis, including unpredictable rains leading to flooding. With many of the borders closed to neighbouring countries, it has made access to food even more difficult.
Desire Majambere, who leads Tearfund’s work in Burundi, says: ‘We have been facing the consequences of the climate crisis for some time now. There are droughts in parts of the country, erratic rainfall in other areas, leading to flooding.
‘Vulnerable communities, who already don’t have enough food, are worst affected. Despite this, and with the added challenges of Covid-19, we are committed to supporting our communities.’
Praise God that we were able to respond quickly to the floods and restore hope and dignity to many vulnerable people.
Pray for people affected by the devastating consequences of the climate crisis. May lasting solutions be found.
- Pray for people who have contracted coronavirus, and for the pandemic not to continue spreading in a country where access to health facilities is challenging.