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Burundi: Escalating landslides fuel panic

Houses are destroyed on March 30, 2015 in the village of Rutunga in the province of Bururi, 35 kms south of the capital Bujumbura, after flooding near the Rutunga river.   -  
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Burundi is grappling with a growing crisis as landslides intensify, sparking alarm in both the economic capital, Bujumbura, and the surrounding provinces. The western part of the city has already witnessed the collapse of several houses, instilling fear among residents along the Ntahangwa River.

Pelagie Niyukuri, a resident, expresses gratitude for being alive amid the precarious ravine. During rains, panic ensues as residents fear a potential collapse, leading to a perilous plunge into the Ntahangwa. About sixty kilometers away in Cibitoke, the same phenomenon is causing panic, with landslides engulfing hectares of crops and homes.

Mathias Karikuriyo, a resident of Rusiga, voices the collective terror, fearing burial beneath nightly landslides. The plea to the government is desperate, urging relocation to ensure the safety of families and children.

The escalating landslides pose a deeply concerning challenge for the government. Saidi Anicet, Chief of Staff of the Governor of Cibitoke, emphasizes the need to prioritize saving the population. Urgent action is required, including the relocation of communities from dangerous areas to prevent mass exodus from collapsing lands.

To address this phenomenon, environmentalists propose a natural stabilization approach as a crucial first step. Leonard Nibigira, an environmental expert, advocates for the selection of stabilizing crops or plants. Bamboo, in particular, emerges as an effective choice due to its negligible weight and extensive root system, aiding in soil stabilization and enhancing cohesion.

The scars of 2019 resurface as landslides in the Mugina commune, Cibitoke province, resulted in over 24 fatalities, 7 injuries, and more than 30 people missing. The region also suffered significant material damage, underscoring the urgent need for proactive measures.

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