MCC, local partners respond to disastrous floods in Burundi

In response to extreme rainfall, floods and landslides, MCC and its partners in Burundi are working together to help 500 families who have been affected

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MCC partner staff, right to left, Egide Niyozima, Ndyaguma Nduhukire, Chadric Ndayirorere, and Nimubona Alexis coordinate during a relief registration in late May 2024 in Gitaza, Burundi.

Mennonite Central Committee and its partners in Burundi are working together to respond to the immense needs in the country after torrential rainfall and a series of floods and landslides have displaced hundreds of thousands of people.

The continuing effects of climate change and an El Niño weather season brought an unprecedented amount of rainfall to Burundi over the last year. 2024 has seen the highest water levels in 60 years in Lake Tanganyika, the second-largest lake in Africa and one of the deepest in the world. Burundi’s economic capital, Bujumbura, and many other places that border the lake are facing incredibly dangerous conditions.

Whole villages have been submerged or leveled by landslides. More than 300,000 people are in desperate need of relief. Nearly 90 percent of Burundians make their living as subsistence farmers, and many have lost their entire livelihoods as their farmland is violently washed away.

People displaced by floods and landslides in Gitaza, Burundi, line up outside an office in the nearby Muhuta commune to register for relief distribution from MCC and its partners.

MCC is responding to the immense need in Burundi in a joint effort with many of its partners in the region. Working with partners Help Channel Burundi, World Outreach Initiatives, The Christian Union for the Education and Development of the Underprivileged, Great Lakes Peacebuilding Initiative, Mission for Peace and Reconciliation under the Cross and Restore Burundi, MCC has begun its emergency relief response for 500 affected families. Each family will receive 20 kgs of rice, 10 kgs of beans, a bucket, a package of sanitary pads (where needed), a carton of soap and a flashlight with batteries.

Mulanda Jimmy Juma, MCC Rwanda and Burundi representative, says the situation is dire, but collaborating with MCC’s local partners benefits the people in need both now and in the future.

“MCC is creating a synergy, a network among the partners and this makes our response to this disaster more effective,” Juma says. “Our partners also grow in capacity as they learn from each other in the process.”

In addition to emergency food and hygiene items, MCC partners also are providing counseling services to help those who are experiencing the trauma of losing their homes, livelihoods or loved ones in the disaster.

Juma says that the disaster comes at an already tumultuous time for the country.

“Send prayers for the displaced people and for Burundi,” he says. “We have an election coming very soon, and just a few weeks ago, two bomb blasts very near our MCC office killed two people and injured several others. It is a very hard time for Burundi.”

Multiply, the North American MB global mission agency, has one worker in the area. Doug Hiebert, regional team leader for Sub-Saharan Africa, reports that the flooding is in an area north of Lake Tanganyika that does not directly affect Multiply’s work and worker Travis Jost.

“However, the flooding and the ongoing fuel shortages, along with continually increasing food prices is creating huge challenges for people,” Hiebert says. “People are desperate and afraid for what is coming. Pray for Travis, as he deals with the hopelessness and insecurity in the country. And pray for Burundi. Pray for God’s intervention.”

By Jason Dueck, Communications specialist for MCC Canada, with files from Multiply.

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