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Floods cause destruction in Burundi amid the COVID-19 pandemic

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Children shriek with joy as they splash around their schoolyard under the blazing midday sun. Some laugh and shout as they paddle by on a wooden canoe, while others cheekily throw buckets of water at their friends, who try not to get wet. What the children do not realize is that the stagnant water they are playing in is contaminated with human faeces from flooded latrines and open defecation. Plastic bottles, bags, shoes, fallen trees, metal sheet roofing and household debris are also floating in the filthy water of Bujumbura Rural Province.

On the night of 19 April, torrential rains caused the banks of the Ruzizi River to overflow, flooding nearly 7,000 homes and displacing thousands of families in the province of Bujumbura Rural, roughly 12 km outside the city. According to the International Organization for Migration’s Displacement Tracking Matrix, the flooding displaced an estimated 39,342 people, although that number is still rising as flooded houses continue to collapse. Additional torrential rains, strong winds and landslides have also affected hundreds of people in other parts of the country, the majority of whom are now displaced.

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