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Lake Tanganyika’s flooding, are risks still impending

The flood levels in Lake Tanganyika hit 776.45m in April 2021 and overflowed the outlet of the Rusizi River, leading to the swamping of infrastructure along the Lake Tanganyika coastline. More than 22,000 people were forced to move in April and May 2021, according to the September 2021 OCHA humanitarian bulletin. The phenomenon, which affected many people in 2020, could return in 2022, despite the initiatives planned, as Burundi Eco reported on 28 September 2021, ahead of the rainy season.

Leisure users on the Lake Tanganyika coastline are still reeling from the flooding caused by the rising waters of Lake Tanganyika during the last rainy season.

Upon our arrival at Nyabugete Beach at 10:30 am on the 28th of September 2021, a clerk at Nyabugete Beach was retrieving leftover plant and plastic debris spewed out by the rising waters of Lake Tanganyika. A hard embankment erected at the shore of this beach, partly protecting it, offers scars of missing grass, as sand was poured in to try to raise the level of the shoreline. This at a time when swings and the remains of some buildings are still under water. The water level has only dropped a few metres, say the inhabitants of Nyabugete II. This is despite the fact that it is the dry season.

Withdrawal of the waters of Lake Tanganyika. The latter remains indignant. Warning over the infrastructure converting the shoreline of Lake Tanganyika.

Same story at the Safari Gate Hotel

At 11am at the Safari Gate Hotel, guests were relishing the services of the hotel. A dike made of sandbags was in front of them, just a few meters away, obstructing the overflow of the waters of Lake Tanganyika into the four huts and the five tents set up there.

A waitress recalls the ordeal. In May and June, all these huts and tents were overflowing with water. Now the water has receded. Besides, she explains, a tent was set up at the entrance to welcome customers. Across the street, she said, at the Zion Beach restaurant and bar, the racks for the infrastructure were submerged. Currently, the stands are in sight.

At the Cercle de la Paix in Bujumbura (former Cercle Nautique), the waters of Lake Tanganyika overflowing into the reeds that litter the area attract the gaze.

Alongside the Regideso pumping station (SP1) and Safi Beach, large stones are piled up to protect the infrastructure from the waves of Lake Tanganyika. This was in the hope of slowing down the horizontal scouring that would risk collapsing the Boulevard du Japon and other shoreline infrastructure in the long term. At the same time, the port infrastructure was at risk.

To mitigate the damage that could be caused by water entering under these infrastructures, Immaculée Ndabaneze, former Minister of Commerce, Transport, Industry and Tourism, said in April that a sum of about BIF 2 billion was needed to do the emergency work. This was to carry out the emergency work.

Bitter menacing threats

“When I remember the atmosphere before the floods, the nostalgia of appreciating the delightful memories immediately flashes through my mind,” said Dany Mugabonihera, a resident of the Asiatique district.

The Water Code enacted in 2012 refrain human activities within 150 metres. This applies to the shoreline of Lake Tanganyika.

According to OCHA’s September update, the heavy rains are attributed to the global El Niño phenomenon combined with local factors. These have inflated the bed of Lake Tanganyika. The Lukuga River (on the DRC side), which is its outlet, and surface evaporation did not contain the flow.

According to the report, the years 2020 and 2021 have been difficult for people living on the shore of Lake Tanganyika and at the estuary of the Rusizi River. This was due to the rising waters of the lake which caused unprecedented flooding. “More than 22,000 people had to leave their homes due to flooding in April and May 2021. Some of these people had already been affected by the same phenomenon in 2020,” the report reads.

The report also states that at the 59th Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum on 26 August 2021, meteorological experts in the region noted that East African countries, including Burundi, are likely to experience less rainfall than normal between October and December 2021.

The story was first published by BurundiEco, reported by Melance Maniragaba, translated from French by Espoir Iradukunda



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