Intense rainfall and rising water levels of Lake Tanganyika and its principal tributary, the Rusizi River, has led to the recent displacement of an estimated 103,305 people in Gatumba and Bujumbura towns in Burundi.
The number of displaced people has risen since June, at which time an estimated 50,000 people had been forced to move as a result of the floods. The Burundi Red Cross and the UN’s International Office for Migration (IOM) estimates that 84% of internal displacements in Burundi are caused by natural disasters. Data collected by the IOM show a rapid increase in internal displacements since 2017, most of which originate from provinces adjacent to Lake Tanganyika such as Bujumbura town, Bujumbura rural and Rumonge. Lake Tanganyika has risen more than 4 metres above its average level, inundating homes and farms in the process.
According to Save the Children Fund, climate shocks are now replacing conflict as the main source of displacement in Burundi as peaceful elections took place in the country in 2020, bringing relative stability. However, in the course of the past five years there has been a rapid increase in the frequency of floods, storms and landslides, and over the past three years all displacements have been related to natural disasters. Save the Children is calling on the international community to help fund the humanitarian response, where an estimated 2.8 million people are in need of assistance, of which nearly 1.3 million are children. Burundi’s humanitarian response plan is currently only 15% funded, leaving gaps in the provision of essentials such as food, water and shelter.