Burundi, Bujumbara: “Forgotten and unseen” on the edges of the city

At least 3,000 people, many of then returnees, have lived for years in Sabe, an informal settlement on the outskirts of the capital, Bujumbura, with only two pit latrines between them, no clean water and no medical cards to help them access medical care. That they have survived for as long as 15 years in difficult conditions without help from the government or any aid agency attests to the fact that thousands of people can fall through the cracks in a country like Burundi, emerging from decades of civil war. […] With the March-April rainy season, several houses have collapsed, leaving residents homeless. Most of the homes are tiny, about 4 sqm, and often get flooded because they are in a swampy area.

Flying toilets

As the site has only two latrines, many residents relieve themselves in the bush during the day. “At night, we use plastic bags to dispose of our waste and in the morning, we throw them into the nearby bush,” Marc Ngendankumana, a Sabe resident said.

Photo: Judith Basutama/IRIN.  A woman fetches dirty water from a pond: Lack of clean water has increased the risk of waterborne diseases for the Sabe residents

Photo: Judith Basutama/IRIN. A woman fetches dirty water from a pond: Lack of clean water has increased the risk of waterborne diseases for the Sabe residents

Lack of clean water aggravates the situation, with residents using muddy and stagnant water for domestic purposes and even for drinking. Some of the residents hang around the roads with jerry cans, hoping to get water from passing motorists. Others struggle to fetch water from a nearby well used to water tree nurseries. As a result, residents are at risk of waterborne diseases. “Round worms and cholera are among the diseases threatening us,” Olive Bararusesa, one of the site leaders, said.

Immaculée Nahayo, Minister for National Solidarity, said on 4 April [2009] the ministry was willing to supply the Sabe residents with water but lacked water tanks. […] Minister Nahayo said assistance had been delayed because “the existence of the site was not known to us until recently”. However, she said the ministry recently distributed food after a team assessed residents’ needs. […] But in the meantime, the ministry is looking for funding to provide latrines, water and decent homes for the Sabe residents.

Source: IRIN, 10 Apr 2009

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