Humanitarian actors warn about the risks of flooding and population displacement during the main rainy season
Over the past two years, the level of Lake Tanganyika has risen by more than one meter compared to its average level. This has led to flooding in areas around the lake and damage to infrastructure while further heavy rains are expected in February and March. Ruzizi River, 117 kilometers long, forms a natural border between the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Burundi and Rwanda. It brings water flows from Lake Kivu, lying at 1,500 meters above sea level while Lake Tanganyika is at 773 meters above sea level. Rusizi River collects water from several tributaries before discharging at a rate of 540 cubic meters of water per second into Lake Tanganyika. The latter is also supplied by water from Malagarazi, Ifume, Lufubu and Lunangwa rivers, and discharges its waters at a rate of 270 cubic meters of water per second into a tributary of Congo River, Lukuga River. Due to heavy rainfalls in the region over the recent period, the area around the mouth of the lake is regularly flooded by rising water levels around the dams on Rusizi River. This phenomenon has had and continues to have an impact on Burundi, most recently this has led to Rusizi River floods have spilled into neighborhoods of Gatumba and Rukaramu zones. According to meteorological experts, the same phenomenon occurred about 50 years ago when the lake level had risen by three meters and several infrastructures around Ruzizi River were inundated, including Melchior Ndadaye International Airport. Since then, construction in this flood-risk zone has increased. Recently, the same areas have experienced two waves of flooding with over 45,000 people affected by the end of April 2020. As of January 2021, 2,740 households or 13,700 people continue to live in the four IDP sites (762 in Kigaramango, 2,525 in Kinyinya II, 130 in Mafubo, 572 in Maramvya Sobel). These numbers are the results of a profiling exercise carried out jointly by the Ministry of National Solidarity, Social Affairs, Human Rights and Gender and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), with funding from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) under the underfunded emergencies category. In January 2021, another wave of flooding caused further human and material damages. One death and one injury were recorded as a result of attacks by aquatic animals, and several homes and public infrastructure (schools, one hospital, and one triage and isolation center for Ebola Virus Disease, EVD) were damaged. Over 1,200 households, the majority of which had just returned to their neighborhoods, were displaced again. Thanks to the mobilization of financial resources and the efforts of various partners, the affected people have been provided with temporary shelter, access to health care, food rations for three months, hygiene kits, latrines and safe drinking water. However, much more is needed. Given that the zones of Gatumba and Rukaramu remain flooded, some of the displaced persons cannot return to their homes in the near future. Mobilizing resources for multi-sectoral emergency assistance, reinforcing the resilience of these households by strengthening adaptation measures and implementing durable solutions remain a priority for all actors.