Bubanza flood victims receive food aid

The Burundian government has begun the distribution of 18 tonnes of food aid to thousands of people in the northwestern province of Bubanza who were displaced by floods in late April.

Beneficiaries of the aid included 327 households in the communes of Gihanga and Mpanda, the two most-affected areas. The nation's first vice-president, Martin Nduwimana, presided over the first distribution in Gihanga commune on Friday. "Since the catastrophe occurred, the government has been collecting relief from its own funds and from donor organisations," he said. "This relief that we have so far collected is directed at the most needy."

The food aid comprised beans and cassava flour. Each household received 30kg of flour and 25kg of beans. "I admit that the relief is not adequate, as you will have to share with another commune," Nduwimana said.

In mid-May, heavy rains caused two rivers to burst their banks in Bubanza, killing nine people and displacing thousands of others. The floods also destroyed a cemetery. In the central province of Muramvya, floods killed 11 people, destroyed 200 homes and damaged at least 1,800 acres of crops.

Flooding destroyed an estimated 500 homes in Gihanga, rendering 2,000 people homeless. They have been living with families whose homes were not affected. The floods also destroyed rice and cotton crops, the main cash crops in the area. Gihanga administration officials said they expect low yields.

With the dry season setting in the province, there is also concern over insufficient grazing land, as the vegetation in the lowland communes dries up.