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Floods at Gatumba, rural Bujumbura, where an estimated 862 homes have been damaged.
Photo No. : P070120-1
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Getting about in the floods.
Photo No. : P070120-2
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Drying clothes - Gatumba, rural Bujumbura.
Photo No. : P070120-3
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Children at Gatumba, rural Bujumbura.
Photo No. : P070120-4
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Famine and floods in Burundi a national crisis
 
EAB PRESS 070120-2
January 20, 2007

[EAB Press - Burundi] The Government of Burundi has declared the situation in the country a national disaster and called for national and international assistance to deal with the crisis.

After a period of poor rains in September when maize and beans are normally planted, the rains arrived but have been prolonged and heavy with severe thunder storms.

The rains have caused much damage throughout the country. Houses and other buildings, such as schools and churches, have been destroyed. Bridges and parts of roads have been damaged disrupting travel and communication. Crops have been washed away or destroyed by flooding. For example, in one small district alone it is estimated that over 1000 homes have been destroyed, and many acres of crops have been swept away by floodwaters.

There are reports of people having died and school children unable to go to school because of hunger. Incidents of diseases such as cholera along with severe cases of malnutrition and other related diseases are increasingly stretching hospitals and medical resources to their limits. The conditions particularly impact the most vulnerable such as orphans, widows, and those already suffering from HIV and AIDS. In some places it is said that food stocks have run out and the local population are depending on food being brought in from Rwanda and Tanzania. The World Food Programme which recently visited two northern provinces to assess the situation found that many people were already surviving on one meal a day.

The situation is worsened by soil erosion, high density of population in some places, and basic crops such as cassava, maize and bananas affected by a mosaic virus and bacterial infections.

The President of Burundi has announced the setting up of a "solidarity fund" to which Burundians must contribute a stipulated amount for four months from the end of January 2007.

"The contribution is to be paid by any person engaged in an income-generating activity [such] as workers, businessmen, public and private companies as well as heads of households not living in affected areas," Pierre Nkurunziza said. The Government is also taking seriously other measures that would improve the situation long-term, such as the planting of trees and water harvesting.

The Province of the Anglican Church of Burundi is making its own appeal for support and emergency relief to assist dioceses as they seek to respond to the crisis, and asks for prayer for those most affected by the situation.