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From Burundi to Kenya, East Africa Battles Catastrophic Floods, With Death Toll Rising

Burundi has been especially hard hit by the floods in East Africa, prompting a call for international assistance.

Various parts of East Africa are being plagued by heavy rainfall, resulting in deadly floods which are causing and prompting Burundi to seek international assistance in coping with the aftermath.

The rising waters of Lake Tanganyika have inundated Bujumbura’s port, disrupting business in Burundi that are heavily reliant on donor support.

Interior Minister Martin Niteretse appealed for collaborative efforts to aid affected individuals.

“We are issuing this statement to ask our development partners to combine efforts with the state of Burundi to help all people affected by these disasters. We need that support”, the minister said.

From September to April 7, over 203,944 people suffered from flooding, with more than 19,250 homes and 209 classrooms destroyed. The U.N. resident coordinator in Burundi, Violet Kenyana Kakyomya, reported a 25% increase in the number of internally displaced persons, surpassing 98,000.

Burundi, among the world’s poorest nations, with 80% of its population engaged in agriculture, faces surreal scenes like game rangers navigating the waterlogged Rusizi National Park by canoe. Major highways, like the Boulevard du Japon in Bujumbura, have also succumbed to flooding.

Climate experts attribute the flooding to extreme conditions associated with the El Niño weather phenomenon.

Jean Marie Sabushimike, a geographer and disaster management expert at the University of Burundi, emphasizes the exacerbating effect of poor land-use planning on flood-prone areas.

He said, “It must be said directly that these floods are associated with climate changes that affect Burundi like other countries in the region”.

The overflowing Kanyosha river, triggered by Lake Tanganyika’s rising levels, has inflicted damage on properties in Bujumbura. Some have been unable to return to their homes or leave.

Meanwhile, Kenya grapples with its own flood crisis, with 35 fatalities reported since mid-March and over 100,000 people affected. The capital, Nairobi, witnessed flooding as rivers breached their banks, prompting authorities to caution against using flooded highways, urging those who live by the Nairobi river to move to higher ground.

In western Kenya, flooding and mudslides have been reported, while in the north, a bus was swept away by floodwaters on a bridge. Kenya’s meteorology department forecasts further rainfall peaks this week, intensifying the crisis.

Melissa Enoch

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