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Gatumba: Small scale businesses jeopardized by floods

Climate change effects have been posing natural disasters on Gatumba residents in western Burundi hitting hard first businesses, hence threatening life of residents. Photo FIle

Residents of Gatumba, especially women involved in small business, have struggled to strive economically due to floods caused by ecological breakthroughs (climate change)

Climate change effects have been posing natural disasters on Gatumba residents in western Burundi hitting hard first businesses, hence threatening life of residents.

Gatumba, a flood-devastated area for the past 10 years where at least once a year people must relocate for two months or over, has incurred a lot of casualties due to climate change.

Floods started from February up to April or May this year. They caused misfortunes as the worst has been ever recorded.

Chantal Tuyisenge, 30 and mother of six, was born and grew in Gatumba. Her first-born is 14. Following recent floods in Gatumba, her shanty house crumbled and all house furniture drowned and got seriously damaged.

“When floods invaded us, our house was deliberately damaged with all house furniture. My family and I sheltered in tents at a nearby primary school,” she said.

Over 600,000 families fled their homes according to IOM (International Organization for Migration).

As for Kwizera, a Gatumba resident married to a Congolese husband and mother of eight children, her house also slumped. Fortunately, no dead was reported.

She regrets that the government didn’t help them.

The government agents came to register our names but so far, we haven’t seen the results,” she said.

Water supplies have been affected what triggered a lack of access to clean water.

Crops have been destroyed causing food insecurity as it increased the existing poverty.

Schools were waterlogged and hundreds of people forced out of their ruined homes to the tents.

“My children did not go to school for a month,” said Tuyisenge.


Women, the mostly affected economically

In Gatumba, like nationwide, women are involved in small businesses. However, they alarm that throughout the year, they haven’t taken any profit.

They depend on selling small fish called Ndagala, tilapia, vegetables, and fruits.

“Our husbands would go to fish near the small river locally known “Kiziba-Angola to feed their families and satisfy basic needs as the government wouldn’t provide a helping hand,” said two females met in Gatumba.

For them, whenever there are floods, everything stops for at least four months.

After a short relocation, they come back but it takes time to settle between two to three months as customers have fled. By the time they start settling, the lake arises again.

Same with farmers, they are also forced to move their cattle to safe areas.

 Can women meet family needs?

Since there is no stable business, it is hard to pay school fees, feed children and sustain the family. The little that a man brings does not suffice.

Pupils have dropped out of schools as well. When the lake rises, no one attends both morning and afternoon classes, as schools are flooded.

What do experts say?

According to some environment experts, the major cause of floods is heavy rainfall.

Flooding is one of the major effects of climate change.

The effect of deforestation is that all waters flow directly to the Tanganyika Lake without any infiltration into mountains what eventually results in erosion.

The recent data shows that water levels have reached up to 777m.

“We were born here; we will not relocate”

 “The government of Burundi should relocate the population from the Gatumba area, the scene of recurrent floods”, suggested Anselme Katiyunguruza, Burundi Red Cross secretary general, on May 8 as the world celebrated the Red Cross Day.

The minister of home affairs, community development and public security said all efforts have been made to relocate Gatumba residents to a safer place, but they denied.

Gatumba residents say they are not ready to relocate.

“Where do they want us to go? Our plots are here. Where they want us to go, we do have neither any property nor family members there. Those who had decided to go there came back. The government helped nothing,” said Kwizera.

They say that they will stay in Gatumba, unless the government builds for them modern houses in safe places.              





Charles Ndayizeye
Charles Ndayizeye
Charles Ndayizeye graduated at the National University in the Department of English Languages and Literature. He is passionate about storytelling. He covers a wide range of topics related to Economics, Health, Environment, and News about Burundi and the East Africa Community.


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