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Climate change, a very serious threat to the socio-economic life of people


Jun 27, 2023

BUJUMBURA June 27th (ABP) – “Climate change poses a very serious threat to the socio-economic life of people, caused mainly by anthropic activities and against which the country should build resilience through proactive actions,” said the teacher-researcher at the University of Burundi and expert in the prevention of hydrometeorological risks and disasters, Dr. Athanase Nkunzimana, during an interview he gave to a check by ABP.

Climate change is mainly caused by the rise in the global average temperature. The concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmospheric envelope contributes to global warming, known as the main cause of climate change. Causes also include environmental damage, and the population growth which is the root cause of the environmental massive destruction and pollution, Dr. Nkunzimana added.

Regarding the impact of climate change on the socio-economic life of the people of Burundi, he stressed that climate change affects much more the economy of the country in general and of the people in particular. More than 90% of Burundians live from agriculture and the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) depends on it. When there are rainfall deficits of 2 to 5 months, there is a significant decrease in harvests, he noted.

Here, the teacher at the Great Lakes University (UGL) and researcher in the environmental field, Tharcisse Ndayizeye, told the check by ABP during an interview that the production decrease due to the rainfall irregularities leads to higher food prices in the market.

Other climate change-related consequences are the hydrological deficit (case of the Rwegura reservoir in 2007); the drying up of water resources, landslides, human and material losses, the proliferation of unusual diseases, the proliferation of other kinds of mosquitoes aggravating malaria; lung diseases due to air pollution; carcinogenic diseases; premature births; abortions; abnormalities in newborns as well as migration of both humans and animals, resulting in great loss of biodiversity.

Added to these are plant diseases. By way of illustration, cocoyam is no longer grown in certain regions of the country following the disease which attacked it during the 1999 and 2001 drought. The mosaic attacking cassava, diseases of banana trees and many others, still persist. Even animal health is not spared, Expert Nkunzimana revealed.

According to Environmental Researcher Tharcisse Ndayizeye, climate change generates conflicts related to the scarcity of water or land resources. “1000 children are born per day in Burundi while the area of the country (27,834 km2) never increases”. Thus, he called on people to general introspection.

“Poor countries continue to get poorer, while rich countries are getting richer at the expense of the victims as a result of actions carried out by their industries,” Professor Ndayizeye deplored.

Given that Burundi has the Kibira forest which captures CO2 in the atmosphere, that environmental researcher proposed to the government to advocate for the implementation of the polluter pays principle, so that countries responsible for greenhouse gas emissions reward our country. He also proposed that there be a National Climate Change Response Fund, before urging people to no longer build in high-risk zones.

The two researchers thus called for adaptation to climate change, family planning, responsible behaviour, environmental sensitivity, and to favor public transport, less energy-consuming equipment and renewable energy, to avoid polluting the atmosphere and the environment.

Met at Gatumba in Mutimbuzi commune of Bujumbura province, the leader of the Kinyinya II site sheltering 1747 households displaced by floods, Mr. Alexis Yamuremye, deplored the dilapidation, insufficiency and spillover of latrines; food insufficiency as well as the lack of water, which, according to him, causes dirty-hand diseases, and infections to women and girls supposed to shower three times a day. He asked to empty already overflowing latrines and build new ones because the site currently has 90 latrines for all the aforesaid households.

View of the floods at Avenue du Cinquantenaire                             View of floods at Mushasha II neighborhood

“We have our homes and properties invaded by floods and do not know where to turn. We humbly ask the government of Burundi and well-wishers to come to our aid,” said the leader of 10 households (Nyumbakumi) at Avenue du Cinquantenaire in the Gaharawe neighbourhood, Mrs. Judith Nijimbere, housed in an infrastructure belonging to Mutimbuzi commune, which was also affected by the floods.

Another leader of 10 households at the Kinyinya II site, Charles Nduwimana, deplored that the living conditions in a one-bedroom-and-livingroom tent leave something to be desired. “Making love is no longer possible because we sleep together with our children,” he revealed.

For her part, Mrs. Sophie Niyonkuru asks for a large number of nursing staff because the site is populated but the nursing staff assigned there is not enough and does not respect working hours. They work during the day only, she reported.

“We hardly eat once a day because we have no sources of income,” another woman by the name of Jeanine Myandagaro deplored.

The flood victims interviewed, unanimously advocated for the construction of a dyke from the Rusizi River to Vugizo, so that they could return to their homes to pursue income-generating activities. “We are ready to be masons’ helpers without asking for a daily portion or reward, so that the dyke construction works can be completed before the rainfall,” they promised.

View of the field landslide at Musumba

Farmer Isidonie Nivyigira met at Musumba, Musigati commune in Bubanza province, told the check by ABP that her crop field slipped in April 2023 following the pressure of underground water and erosion. She thus deplored a reduction in production quantity for the cropping season C 2023 following the dwindling of her field.

Note that the impacts of climate change affect all sectors. Climate change is a global issue and originates from human activity, Researchers Nkunzimana and Ndayizeye underlined.