• 200,000 people have been affected due to El Nino’s heavy rains that struck Burundi between the end of 2023 and April 2024

  • The number of internally displaced people in the country increased by 25% following these events

  • Lake Tanganyika rose to 777.04 metres, 36 centimetres below the previous record in 1964

  • The cycle of the El Nino meteorological phenomenon and its consequences seem to be increasing with global warming

  • IRC is preparing to launch an emergency response including cash assistance and water, sanitation and hygiene awareness-raising activities

Heavy rains triggered by El Niño, leading to widespread flooding and displacement, have severely impacted the lives of over 200,000 people in Burundi. Since September, the country has experienced unrelenting rainfall instead of the usual two rainy seasons, resulting in severe humanitarian challenges.

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is working with the Burundian government, UN agencies, NGOs, and civil society in a united call for urgent aid to address the crisis. Between the end of 2023 and April 2024, over 200,000 individuals have been affected by floods, landslides, high winds, and hailstorms. The number of internally displaced people (IDPs) has surged by 25%, reaching 96,000.

Valentin Lubunga Kibukila, IRC Country Director for Burundisaid, "The rains and resulting flooding in Lake Tanganyika have caused extensive damage across several regions. Roads, schools, and health centres have been destroyed or irremediably damaged, which is very worrying. Due to flooding, the IRC's activities have had to be suspended in the areas worst affected by flooding. Our clients and the communities have lost what little they have.

 "It is crucial that the international community reacts swiftly to provide vital assistance to people on the frontlines of climate change. Given the loss of human life and the destruction of crops, livelihoods, housing and socio-economic infrastructure, the humanitarian needs are immense and urgent: shelter, food, medical care, and access to clean drinking water. Every donation counts in saving lives."

Lake Tanganyika, Africa's second-largest lake, rose to 777.04 metres on April 12, just 36 centimetres below the record levels seen during the 1964 flood, according to the head of Civil Protection, Burundi’s national natural disaster management body.

El Niño, which began in mid-2023 and is expected to persist, poses a significant threat to Burundi and other Central and East African countries already struggling with fragile conditions. These conditions, compounding climate, disproportionately impact the most vulnerable populations, exacerbating existing inequalities as they bear the brunt of extreme weather events, food insecurity, and displacement.

Delphine Büttner, Programme Manager at the Stamm Burundi Foundation, an IRC partner, said “Hygiene has deteriorated dramatically, leaving our clients in extremely precarious sanitary conditions. This raises serious concerns about potential outbreaks of water-borne diseases and a likely increase in malaria cases. Additionally, there are more children being abandoned or separated from their families. The inaccessibility of our centres further hampers our ability to provide them the necessary assistance.”

The IRC is currently preparing an emergency response, including cash assistance and water, sanitation, and hygiene awareness-raising, and appeals to the international community to join in this crucial humanitarian effort. Crisis-affected communities are being left out of the global approach to climate financing and climate action. These communities need more dedicated resources in the new global climate financial target and adaptation support.


The International Rescue Committee provides humanitarian assistance and protection to the most vulnerable in Burundi. The IRC also provides support for refugees from neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo.