Burundi: severe weather causes a natural catastrophe

by Terre des hommes | Terre des hommes (Tdh) - Switzerland
Friday, 14 February 2014 13:35 GMT

* Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

During the night of Sunday to Monday, Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi was subjected to heavy rain causing the deaths of around 50 people. Terre des hommes (Tdh) in Burundi is organising relief efforts to assist those affected, assess their immediate needs and identify any unaccompanied injured children.
‘The rain that fell last night on the capital and its surroundings has caused an undeniable natural catastrophy,’ said General Gabriel Nizigama, Minister for Public Safety. The high ground around Bujumbura was struck by the elements in the night of Sunday to Monday. A storm lasting more than four hours produced downpours on certain parts of the city and caused huge surges of water on the hills surrounding the capital.
A heavy initial toll
According to state authorities, at least 51 people died as a result of the bad weather, some of the worst ever seen in the capital. Police reported hundreds of homes destroyed as well as several landslides. Roads are currently impassable with mudslides blocking traffic.‘The road from Bujumbura to Ngozi has been flooded by a substantial torrent of water,’ reports Jérôme Combes, head of the Tdh delegation in Burundi.
Several parts of the city have been affected, the two state hospitals were overwhelmed and emergency tents set up. According to Jérôme Combes, ’there are no officials figures yet but several thousand families are homeless.’ Those affected urgently need shelter, food and essential items such as blankets, clothes and hygiene kits.
Emergency assistance
The Tdh Foundation has been active in Burundi (http://www.tdh.ch/en/countries/burundi) about our projects for nearly 30 years, through protection and support projects, particularly among children living on the street or in trouble with the law. Although these projects have not been directly affected by the storm, the first thing Tdh staff did was to organise a response to the emergency.
A team from Tdh visited the worst hit areas yesterday morning, mostly in the Gatunguru district. Initial emergency assistance will be provided in the form of the distribution of 200 blankets to the most vulnerable families. A further Tdh team is visiting the hospitals in order to identify any unaccompanied injured children.
An emergency response team is being set up under the auspices of the United Nations.
Every year, Terre des hommes offers sustainable solutions and a better future for over two million children and their relatives. Learn more about our projects in Burundi: http://www.tdh.ch/en/countries/burundi