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  • Keith Scott

Floods and Mudslides

Early in my stay here in Burundi I got an email from the travel agent which handles all of CMSI’s travel arrangements. It was a warning that the country was experiencing significant flooding and landslides. It certainly is! Although living here, high up the ridge that overlooks Lake Tanganyika, I didn’t think that it would have much impact on me, fool that I am.

 

A friend took me for a drive along the lake side. The lake itself has risen and flooded many of the properties that, last year, were well out of the water. Along the Rusizi flood plain, people had moved to higher ground after last year’s flooding. But even this higher ground was now under water and the people had to move once more.

 

This year it was not just the poorer people that were affected. Even the houses of the wealthy, also built on higher ground, were flooded. The city’s port on the lake is not able to operate because the lake has risen to flood the docks.

 

Over the weekend I travelled to Matana and on to the political capital, Gitega. On the way through the hills we were held up for about half an hour due to a huge mudslide which had covered the road. When we finally managed to get there, we slipped and slid through the mud, needing a push to help us along (which cost about $1).

 

In Ireland we have had flooding in a number of our towns. Talking to farmers in rural parishes over Easter I heard genuine worry for the long-term future. All over the world people are struggling with the challenges of too much rain, floods, and fields that just have not dried out. Elsewhere there is drought, short or intermittent rains. This may be an exceptionally wet year but it’s happening more frequently and creating more chaos. Our climate is really changing and instead of living in denial or simply not caring because protecting people from climate change has nothing to do with “being saved”, we need to take action. The Hebrew and Christian scriptures demand justice and care for the marginalised and vulnerable. The human being was put in the Garden to protect and serve it, not to exploit and destroy it. Our faith, our commitment, demands a meaningful, real and concrete response for the sake of Jesus Christ.


Houses in the Rusizi flood plain

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