IOM Provides Emergency Assistance to Victims of Flash Floods in Burundi

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Bujumbura – More than 1,000 flood-displaced households have received emergency shelters, non-food items (NFIs) and rental support from IOM, the UN Migration Agency, since heavy flooding struck southern and western parts of Burundi and in areas bordering Lake Tanganyika in May.

“When the floods occurred, my house was destroyed,” said Seraphina Havyarinana of Nyaza-Lac (Makamba), which, along with Gatumba (Bujumbura Rural) and Buterere (Bujumbura Mairie) hills, was the focus of IOM’s response. “I was desperate.”

The floods completely destroyed more than a thousand homes and left a further 4,000 households displaced and vulnerable. The affected households lost most of their belongings and were forced to seek shelter with their neighbours. Although her neighbour offered to provide temporary shelter for Seraphina and her children, she had no money for even the most basic commodities like soap.

Fortunately, nearly 140 host households received rental support for three months to cover shelter needs during the dry season, when access to employment in the agricultural sector is often scarce. Seraphina was relieved: “We welcomed this help. Having people who help you in such circumstances, I can only be grateful.”

Assistance was provided thanks to the support of the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA) and the Department for International Development (UK) in collaboration with the local administration and volunteers from the Burundi Red Cross and L’Organisation pour la Prévention et l’Intervention contre les Risques et Contingences who helped construct the shelters, among other activities.

“The support provided for flood victims was a great example of collaboration by members of the humanitarian community in Burundi,” said IOM Burundi Emergency Coordinator Sam Derbali. “All the activities were carried out in collaboration with the NFI/Shelter sector.”

An estimated 200 NFI kits comprised of two water containers, one bucket with a lid, a kitchen set, three sets of floor mats, blankets, mosquito nets and 2.5 kilograms of soap were distributed in Nyaza-Lac. The World Health Organization provided 597 pre-treated mosquito nets to complement the kits.

Fifty standard emergency shelters primarily composed of plastic sheets and wooden poles, were constructed. The beneficiaries will recycle the materials to build their houses in the future. Where possible the shelters were erected on the owners’ original plots of land. Where flood debris prevented this, they were constructed on land belonging to their neighbours with their approval.

As part of IOM’s ongoing project to support displaced populations, 30 durable shelters were also constructed in Nyaza-Lac. In Gatumba region, IOM provided 200 emergency shelters and 277 NFI kits to flood victims while 100 households received host/rental support in Buterere. In all the areas where shelter was provided, young people were engaging in the construction through cash for work programmes. A representative from OFDA along with IOM’s team visited Nyanza-Lac to assess the work.

In Burundi, IOM is committed to delivering emergency response to displaced victims of natural hazards and help build the preparedness of the communities most likely to be affected.

“Although we were able to assist the most vulnerable households, thousands remain displaced or impacted by the devastating effects of the rains,” said IOM’s Derbali. “We must continue our efforts to restore dignified living conditions for victims of natural hazards and raise awareness of the critical situation that many are still facing.”

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