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Northern Burundi Hit Hard by Drought


The drought that’s gripping East Africa is also affecting parts of Central Africa. For example, areas of Burundi are in need of immediate emergency food and water supplies. Aid agencies, such as ActionAid, are starting to bring in supplies.

Hannah Crabtree, who works for ActionAid, has just returned from touring Burundi. From London, she spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about what she saw:

“I went up to the north on the border with Rwanda to a place called Kirundu. It’s a small town…on the border with Rwanda and Tanzania. Now what I saw there was a really horrific situation. Basically, as I drove along the road, it’s four hours out of the capita city, Bujumbura. And you drive along the road and it’s green and lush and you can’t understand why there would be a food crisis. But when I got to Kirundu, I was taken to this hospital that had been transformed into a child-feeding center. And the sights that greeted me there were just shocking…. It was a hospital that was full of children with severe malnutrition, and quite obviously many of these children weren’t going to survive.”

She blames the situation not only on drought, but also on years of conflict and high levels of HIV/AIDS. Crabtree says she visited banana and coffee plantations that had dried up. The men who had lived there had left to search for food, while their families remained and awaited their return. She says people told her that one man became so desperate he tried to hang himself but was cut down by villagers.

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