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The climate change sensitisation team from Christian Faith International interfaces with the community during the visit
The sensitised communities committed to: i)Create market gardens to guarantee food security even in the face of drought ii)Promote large-scale irrigation coupled with the willingness to restore and protect water catchment areas iii)Engage in parallel but profitable income-generating activities with nutritional impact but not dependent on rainfall iv)Make rational management of rainwater, and v)Protect the green environment/vegetation through fighting against bush burning and deforestation..
Burundi is one of the 20 countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Majority of the humanitarian needs in the country are caused by recurrent natural disasters linked to climate change. Since 2018, more than 445 natural disasters have happened; adversely affecting over 270,000 people in Burundi of which 100,000 were displaced.

Rising ocean temperatures are disrupting rainfall in many countries around the world and Burundi is not spared. The rainy seasons in Burundi are becoming more and more challenging to vulnerable populations.  Rain is a necessity for agriculture, but excessive or lack of it thereof is disastrous to nature.
Water and subsoil resources are essential for the economic and social development of the country. These resources are under strong pressure from the surging population growth, overexploitation of land, and the increasing demand for natural resources. Climate change and increase in its variability on addition to the above is further affecting the availability of water both in quality and quantity.

Kirundo province is one of the four provinces in the north of Burundi that, for more than a decade have experienced disruptions related to climate change; characterized by prolonged droughts resulting in chronic food insecurity. This situation of water deficit is attributable to global climate change due in part to excessive deforestation caused by demographic pressure and non-rational use of environmental resources.
Several hills in the north of Kirundo province, particularly those in the communes of Bugabira, Ntega, Marangara and Busoni, have not received rain for several months now, while the other communes have been hit by excessive torrential rains and strong winds, resulting in crop rot and damage to homes and infrastructure.

It is upon this background that on July 14, 2022, a civil society organisation Christian Faith International Burundi (CFI), which is also a member of the Burundi Nile Discourse Forum organized a community sensitisation visit to the construction sites of the Basic Schools of Carubambo - Ntega commune and  Ruhehe – Bugabira commune, both located within Kirundo province; first to assess the level of consideration and measures taken to protect the environment at the construction sites, but to also increase awareness about climate change adaptation, and conservation of the environment to the surrounding communities.

The team sensitised communities on climate change, its effects, mitigation, and adaptation – mainly focusing on drought and flooding. The communities were asked to control human activity on nature such as deforestation and overexploitation of the land which accentuates drought and the accelerates loss of water in the reserves. The activists appealed to the communities to take action while advising them on what to do to contribute towards climate change mitigation and also build resilience to climate change impacts.

The sensitisation focused mainly on behaviour change of members of the community in regards to the activities they do in their daily life, to align them with climate change mitigation actions since inconsiderate human activity is the leading contributor to climate change risks.
 
In response, the participants were appreciative of the sensitisation and committed to take all measures and advisories to mitigate impacts of climate change, protect the environment and build resilience to survive in the case of risks.
They committed to: - i) Create market gardens to guarantee food security even in the face of drought ii) Promote large-scale irrigation coupled with the willingness to restore and protect water catchment areas iii) Engage in parallel but profitable income-generating activities with nutritional impact but not dependent on rainfall iv) Make rational management of rainwater, and v) Protect the green environment/vegetation through fighting against bush burning and deforestation.


Initiatives by the Burundi government to mitigate climate change and its risks:

Various government initiatives are visible at the local level through the implementation of several climate change related disaster and risk prevention and management solutions. In addition to the creation of a precise map of risk areas, dykes are being built and buffer basins are being created upstream to mitigate the risk of overflow or waterlogging. The increase of green spaces is also ongoing as a means to minimize the occurrence and severity of floods in the long term.

Guidelines for the protection of highlands against erosion and cleanliness of flowing water were put in place by the concerned ministry and also endorsed by the Council of Ministers’ meeting held in early July 2022. The underlying reasons for developing these guidelines are:
  • There are many partners working in the field of environment but are not outputting expected results or causing impact on the ground
  • The vision of the government is that all such projects must be prepared in consultation with other partners and with observance and consideration of government plans and priorities.
  • The fundamental idea of the government of Burundi is that agriculture does not destroy the environment and that both complement each other.
  • A strict and cautious development on slopes of mountains and enhanced contouring of all the hills in the country so that the water in all rivers is clean and healthy.
  • Proposed projects must be accompanied with action plans of the activities that are environmentally friendly. The objective is that the mountain slopes and the rivers versant must be protected to conserve the environment.

Recommendations from the council of ministers:

  • The implementation of the guidelines should be carried out as soon as possible and protection of the environment must be a responsibility of all people.
  • The contour lines on hills should be created within this year (2022) regardless of who owns the fields.
  • The banks of the rivers that flow into Lake Tanganyika should be protected with bamboo trees.
  • The administration must contribute significantly in the implementation of these measures and the overall goal is that the water flowing in the rivers is clean and free from pollution.

Conclusion:

A combined effort of Civil Society, the government and all stakeholders in the fight against climate change, and the preparation of communities for climate change mitigation and resilience can have a far-reaching impact. CSOs have the capacity to effectively reach grassroots communities and to effectively influence appropriate action thereof. It is very important for both government and CSO to find common ground as they collaborate forces to enhance climate change action.

Author:
AHISHAKIYE Fabrice,
National Technical Support Expert - Burundi NDF


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