IOM, Partners Need More Support to Provide Humanitarian Assistance to Thousands of Floods-displaced Families in Burundi

Bujumbura – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and its partners are calling for more support to adequately respond to the humanitarian needs of floods-displaced people in Burundi. 

More than 10,000 people have been displaced by devastating floods following heavy rains that have battered parts of Burundi in the recent weeks. Individuals from the rural area of Gatumba, in the province of Bujumbura, have been forced to seek shelter in schools, churches or sometimes in improvised makeshift shelters by the roadside. In addition to losing their homes, many have lost their livelihoods as the flooding has destroyed crops and damaged businesses. This follows the displacement of 1,000 households in the same area in April 2023, according to IOM's Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM).

“The consequences of climate-induced disasters call for continuous lifesaving assistance to the affected communities, and most especially the Internally Displaced Persons. Funding support is urgently needed to assist the most vulnerable and leave no one behind,” said Vijaya Souri, IOM’s Chief of Mission in Burundi.

IOM as the lead of the Shelter/Non-Food Items sector is working closely with the Government of Burundi and other humanitarian actors to provide lifesaving shelter and non-food items assistance to the displaced population. However, the continued underfunding of the Humanitarian Response Plan for 2023 is hampering response.
Torrential rains have caused devastating floods in East Africa’s Great Lakes region, affecting not only Burundi but also the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Rwanda displacing thousands and leaving others dead.  

The displaced populations are in dire need of urgent humanitarian assistance including shelter, food, non-food items and protection. With the cholera epidemic that broke out in Burundi in January 2023, the public health risks for those displaced and sheltered in crowded areas, often without proper access to basic water, sanitation, and hygiene infrastructure, are seriously aggravated. Nearly half of the 187 confirmed cases in the Bujumbura province as of May 4, 2023, were in the Gatumba area, and one person has died, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Children are also particularly affected as schools have been turned into shelters, interrupting the regular class schedule.
Some residents of Gatumba have been displaced several times in recent years, particularly due to heavy flooding in 2020 and 2021. The recurrence of climate-induced disasters in Burundi, combined with the rising cost of living, continue to undermine the resilience of affected populations.

Despite the urgency of the situation, partners, including IOM, are struggling to meet the needs of those most affected. Without support to displaced populations, further climate-induced disasters could quickly escalate and aggravate existing emergencies.

Globally, Burundi is among 20 countries most vulnerable to climate change. The situation could get worse as climate change is intensifying the occurrence and impact of natural hazards. 

In the aftermath of a disaster, people’s lives, living conditions and routine become deeply affected and disrupted. Still, disasters force some of the most vulnerable populations to live in terrible conditions. 

For more information, please contact Laëtitia Romain, Media and Communication Officer, IOM Burundi: 

SDG 13 - Climate Action
SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
SDG 3 - Good Health and Well Being