Building and planning code violations were largely to blame for the deaths - amid torrential rain earlier this month - of dozens of people in Burundi’s capital, and the destruction there of 3,500 homes, according to a leading urban planning expert who noted that numerous reports had warned of just such an eventuality.
Children accounted for most of the 68 deaths on 10 February in a city
that is surrounded by very steep hills. Some 15,000 people have been
left homeless and are now staying in five centres around the city where
the government and Red Cross are providing food and other essentials.
“Most of the victims had built their homes in the beds of major water
courses, whereas construction is forbidden in these locations,” Bernard
Sindayihebura, a professor at the University of Bujumbura, told IRIN.
Much of the recent construction in the city was haphazard and did not
follow regulations, he said.
And while quarry businesses have since 1993 been obliged by law to
rehabilitate areas worked, including by planting trees, the professor
noted that the once-forested hillsides around the capital are bare,
exploited anarchically with no effort made to fill holes dug.
Another problem he noted was that some drains become narrower rather
than wider as they descend the steep hillsides and this, coupled with
maintenance failures, led to catastrophic overflows into inhabited areas
when there was heavy rain.
Deputy Mayor of Bujumbura Remy Barampama said the drains had been badly
designed, in some places resembling funnels which were “incapable of
coping with all the water from the mountains and households of the
Some of the destroyed houses had been built on “loose soil mainly
composed of deposits left by streams or previous floods”, which was
washed away during the latest heavy rains, taking the houses with it,
“With these kinds of slopes, no habitation, no building or settlement
should be at the bottom [of the hill]. If there is a settlement we are
inviting death at times of heavy rain,” he said.
“If there are floods today, landslides are possible tomorrow,” he added,
explaining that floodwaters had gouged out ravines and that further
flooding should be expected in Bujumbura, notably near the shores of
Lake Tanganyika, the depth of which, he said, had increased by a full
two metres since 2005.
Yet another 'natural disaster' exacerbated by poor planning and official disregard for violations of regulations. Rich world, poor world - similar stories continue to be told and it always seems to be connected to someone, somewhere making a profit, legally or illegally.
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Friday, February 21, 2014
Planning Violations, Not Natural Disaster, Cause Of Deaths In Burundi
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