2019 Burundi landslides

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The northwestern Burundi landslides were a series of rapidly occurring natural disasters in 2019.[1] On December 4, 2019, only less than two months after the October celebration of the International Day for Disaster Reduction (IDDR),[2] heavy rains precipitated the deadly series of landslides that followed later that night into the next day,[1] affecting over 500 people in Nyempundu, Gikomero and Rukombe of the northwestern provinces of Cibitoke, bordering Rwanda, and Bubanza as well as the northeastern province of Cankuzo.[3][4] At least 27 people have been killed and 10 left missing as of the December 11 human toll which is still expected to rise in the foreseeable future.[5][4] 7 injured persons were admitted into Cibitoke referral hospital, 6 of whom have been discharged, and the seventh has been transferred to the Kigobe hospital, managed by Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders-Burundi (MSF-B).[6][5] Significant property damage has been incurred as well,[7] leaving 206 households displaced.[5]

2019 Burundi landslides
2019 Burundi landslides (Burundi)
DateDecember 5, 2019
Time16:00 (UTC+02:00)
LocationCibitoke, Bubanza, and Cankuzo, Burundi
Coordinates2°48′37″S 29°11′08″E / 2.8103°S 29.1856°E / -2.8103; 29.1856Coordinates: 2°48′37″S 29°11′08″E / 2.8103°S 29.1856°E / -2.8103; 29.1856
TypeLandslide, flash flood
CauseSoil erosion and unseasonably heavy rains
Non-fatal injuries7


Since January 2019, heavy rainfall has triggered flash floods, mudslides and landslides in various provinces, especially Bujumbura (Mairie and Rural), Cibitoke, Bubanza, Muyinga, Cankuzo, and Muramvya provinces. Resultingly, almost 13,000 people have been displaced, and 45 people have died.[5] Furthermore, these natural disasters have caused extensive damage to infrastructure, and hampered access to essential sources of food, water, education and healthcare. There is also now an heightened risk of the spread of the zoonotic transmission of disease due to the resulting proliferation of mosquitoes.[7]

As of September 2019, there are 103,412 Internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Burundi, of which roughly 79,600 or 77% are displaced due to natural disasters (including over 8,400 displaced since January 2019), mainly in the regions bordering Lake Tanganyika, and the north-western and central provinces, according to the International Organization for Migration's (IOM) Displacement Tracking Matrix.[8]

According the European Union's European Civil-protection and Humanitarian-aid Operations (ECHO) the risk of natural disaster continue to increase day-by-day with the early onset of the Burundian September 2019 rainy season and above-average rainfall forecasted by the United States' National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).[9] UNOCHA now considers Burundi to be among the twenty most vulnerable countries to climate change and natural hazards.[7] East Africa currently experiences unseasonably heavy rains caused by the higher-than-average temperatures of the Indian Ocean, potentially due to cyclical weather phenomenons and global warming.[1] The heavy rains and previous floods which inflict Burundi appear to be the resulting manifestations of these factors.

According to a Save the Children count based on United Nations and government figures, more than 1,200 deaths across East and Southern Africa have been caused by floods, landslides, and a cyclone this year.[10] In addition, the UN has found that floods have displaced nearly half a million people in southern Sudan, 200,000 in Ethiopia and at least 370,000 in Somalia this year.[11]

In addition, soil erosion as a result of overgrazing and the expansion of agriculture into marginal lands, may have contributed to the Burundian susceptibility and vulnerability to devastating landslides.[12]

The recently launched Global Humanitarian Overview (GHO) indicates that Natural disasters pose substantial risks to the approximately 80 per cent of Burundians depend on subsistence farming, and that 1.74 million people will be in need in 2020.[8]


Since December 4, at least a dozen hills around Nyempundu, in Mugina commune in Cibitoke, have been collapsed by severely damaging landslides, precipitated by torrential rains.[13][7]

An anonymous local Cibitoke province government official, reported to Reuters that victims were living on a hillside which gave way after the heavy rains of the day before. "They are still digging up dead bodies," the official said.[1]

In an official Twitter post,[1] the Ministry of Public Security has confirmed that much property was damaged in the disaster at least 26 people have died and 10 are missing.[14] According to another ministry spokesperson, Pierre Nkurikiye, other provisional police reports indicate the deaths of at least some 38 people (three in Gikomero, 13 in Rukombe and 22 died in Nyempundu), though these reports are still provisional,[15][16][3][5] and as of now, excavation and search-and-rescue (SAR) operations are still ongoing.[14]

Destruction and damage of key infrastructure – including homes, roads, and bridges – has been reported. Over 80 houses, 6 brides and roads, and 9 water access points have been destroyed, and crops continue to be wiped out.[8]


Cibitoke Governor Joseph Iteriteka has addressed victims of the disaster, thanking everyone involved in the management of the disaster.[17]

UNOCHA currently leads an intersectoral team which has gained access to these hard-to-reach affected areas to evaluate the destruction. The international community's willingness to help the affected people was especially communicated in a December 6 meeting with the Government's Provincial Platform, led by the Governor's Counsellor in charge of social affairs. The Government of Burundi's Civil Protection and Disaster Management Unit, the public provincial and communal administration, the Burundi Red Cross (BRC), the police, the army, the surrounding population, and the Cibitoke and Mugina Health Districts,[6] have all deployed local emergency relief services.[7]

The UNOCHA intersectoral team has concluded that the most pressing necessities in order of priority are: food and water, shelter and other non-food items (all sorts of NFI kits have been and are being distributed by IOM, World Vision, BRC, UNICEF, UNFPA and NGOs Help a Child, War Child Holland & Concern Worldwide),[5] psychosocial support, and access between hills and villages. Landslides washed away fields that were exploited by these populations, as well as their crops and food reserves, notably those by the Mubarazi river in Muramvya,[18] and similarly much livestock.[19] Water points and sanitary facilities have been washed away and what remains of them is under considerable strain due to high demand. There is also an increased risk of waterborne diseases. The mission noted that physical access to schools in the Nyempundu area is hampered by landslides that have cut off some roads, and that many schoolchildren in general have lost their school materials.[7]

On December 7, the National Platform for Disaster Management set up an Ad-hoc crisis management committee to manage the emergency headed by the Director of Humanitarian Action of the Ministry of Human Rights, Social Affairs and Gender. On the same day, 1,900 affected households received 28.5 tonnes of rice granted by the Ministry-led committee. This aid was deposited in the commune of Mugina, over 25 kilometers from the disaster site and to which the beneficiaries will have to travel to access it. As of now, no provision has been made for people with special needs, and the relocation site identified in the village of Rusagara, not far from the shopping centre of the municipality of Mugina, was rejected for the second time by the BRC.[7][5]

On December 8, the ad-hoc committee, noting that the response to needs will continue as sectors refine their data for a more consistent assistance, requested that the World Food Programme (WFP) carry out the food assistance, which will begin to distribute 15-day rations of beans, corn, oil and salt on December 16,[5] that the visit to the relocation site be conducted quickly and that support be provided to all victims of this rainy season.[7] UNOCHA concluded its December 8 "Flash Update No. 2" saying "The humanitarian community will continue to work with the Government's National Platform to reinforce this emergency response, as well as with local municipalities that are willing to support these relief efforts."[7]

A week after the landslide, the burial of the recovered bodies, arranged by the BRC in cooperation with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), took place on December 12 in the Nyamakarabo area, but issues are still faced in the lack of assistance to the efforts of the authorities in conducting SAR operations, the extraction of corpses, and the evacuation of the wounded to nearby hospitals. In addition, access to the area remains hampered by landslides that have damaged the roads crossing the area and wooden bridges that remain cannot allow heavy machinery to pass through.[5]

See also[edit]


a.^ "Éboulement de terrains suite aux fortes pluies tombées hier à Nyempundu, Gikomero et Rukombe (zone Nyamakarabo, commune Mugina en @CibitokeProv ) : 26 morts, 07 blessés et 10 personnes non-encore retrouvées. Des maisons, champs et biens aussi endommagés. Fouilles en cours." (French)
Translation: "Landslide following heavy rains that fell yesterday in Nyempundu, Gikomero and Rukombe (Nyamakarabo zone, Mugina commune in @CibitokeProv): 26 dead, 07 injured and 10 people not yet found. Houses, fields and property also damaged. Excavations in progress."


 This article incorporates public domain material from the CIA World Factbook website https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/index.html.

  1. ^ a b c d "Landslides in northwest Burundi kill at least 26 people". Reuters. December 5, 2019. Retrieved December 5, 2019.
  2. ^ "Ministère de la Sécurité Publique". securitepublique.gov.bi. Retrieved December 21, 2019.
  3. ^ a b "'Whole families buried alive': Dozens dead in Burundi landslides". Al Jazeera. Retrieved December 5, 2019.
  4. ^ a b "Burundi: Floods and Landslides – Dec 2019". ReliefWeb. Retrieved December 12, 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Burundi: Floods & Landslides Flash Update No. 3, 12 December 2019 – Burundi". ReliefWeb. Retrieved December 13, 2019.
  6. ^ a b ABP (December 5, 2019). "#Burundi-@CibitokeProv:Jusque vers le soir de ce jeudi, le nombre de personnes décédées arrive à 24,tandis que le nombre de blessés est estimé à une dizaine dont Sept cas graves évacués aux structures de soins de la province sanitaire de Cibitoke(2)pic.twitter.com/zw5VISN4MW". @ABPInfos (in French). Retrieved December 12, 2019.[non-primary source needed]
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Burundi: Floods & Landslides Flash Update No. 2, 8 December 2019 – Burundi". ReliefWeb. Retrieved December 10, 2019.
  8. ^ a b c "Burundi: Floods & Landslides Flash Update No. 1, 6 December 2019 – Burundi". ReliefWeb. Retrieved December 17, 2019.
  9. ^ "ECHO Flash List". European Commission. Retrieved December 20, 2019.
  10. ^ "Save the Children Analysis Reveals Natural Disasters Claimed 1,200 Lives Across East & Southern Africa in 2019". Save the Children. Retrieved December 5, 2019.
  11. ^ "Eastern Africa Region: Regional Flood Snapshot (November 2019) – South Sudan". ReliefWeb. Retrieved December 5, 2019.
  12. ^ "Africa :: Burundi – The World Factbook – Central Intelligence Agency". cia.gov. Retrieved December 8, 2019.
  13. ^ ABP (December 5, 2019). "#Burundi-@CibitokeProv:Le glissement de terrain lié au fortes pluies qui se sont abattues sur la commune Mugina la nuit de mercredi à jeudi, du 4 au 5 décembre,a fait un bilan lourd de dégâts humains et matériels sur la colline Nyempundu, a-t-on constaté sur place(1)pic.twitter.com/5tmdR7VNM8". @ABPInfos (in French). Retrieved December 12, 2019.[non-primary source needed]
  14. ^ a b Sécurité, Burundi (December 5, 2019). "Éboulement de terrains suite aux fortes pluies tombées hier à Nyempundu, Gikomero et Rukombe (zone Nyamakarabo, commune Mugina en @CibitokeProv) : 26 morts, 07 blessés et 10 personnes non-encore retrouvées. Des maisons, champs et biens aussi endommagés. Fouilles en cours". @BurundiSecurity (in French). Retrieved December 5, 2019.[non-primary source needed]
  15. ^ Published. "At least 38 killed in Burundi landslide". Punch Newspapers. Retrieved December 21, 2019.
  16. ^ Burundi, SOS Médias (December 5, 2019). "URGENT – 38 persons yesterday lost their lives several houses and crops fields destroyed following heavy rains in the district of #Mugina (#Cibitoke province, North-West Burundi). The police say it's a provisional death toll. #Burundipic.twitter.com/lk3QiBSow8". @SOSMediasBDI. Retrieved December 12, 2019.[non-primary source needed]
  17. ^ ABP (December 5, 2019). "#Burundi-Devant cette situation catastrophique, le Gouverneur de la province de Cibitoke, Me Joseph Iteriteka dans son message envers les sinistrés, a remercié toute personne qui a participé à la gestion de cette catastrophe(4)pic.twitter.com/OT05kOazSp". @ABPInfos (in French). Retrieved December 12, 2019.[non-primary source needed]
  18. ^ ABP (December 5, 2019). "#Burundi-Au moment où des pluies diliviènnes qui s'observent dans ces jours en province de Muramvya ont déjà endommagé toutes les champs de cultures avoisinant la rivière Mubarazi,les bords des deux routes nationales qui passent par la province Muramvya n'ont pas été épargnéspic.twitter.com/addyVViVYJ". @ABPInfos (in French). Retrieved December 12, 2019.[non-primary source needed]
  19. ^ ABP (December 5, 2019). "#Burundi-@CibitokeProv:Beaucoup de maisons se sont effronfrées sous ces éboulement sans parler d'autres pertes matériels comme les cultures et les bétails anéantis par ce catastrophe causés par ces montages qui se sont détachées pour glisser le long de la pente vers le bas(3)pic.twitter.com/wxsZvXmVZK". @ABPInfos (in French). Retrieved December 12, 2019.[non-primary source needed]