During these heavy rains, small stock really suffer. Source: IRIN
Unusually heavy rains have caused havoc across much of east Africa, displacing thousands of people and damaging important infrastructure…
In Burundi, flood-affected areas include the northwestern region of Bubanza, Bujumbura City and the plains of Imbo along the shores of Lake Tanganyika.
Source: IRIN-In East Africa, heavy rains test emergency preparedness
The ‘Plains of Imbo’ - wetlands to the east of the Rusizi River delta - that’s where we are. The ongoing rains have been devistating to food and cash crops, as well as to homes and other constructions. Below are pictures both of normal and flooded conditions, with a bit of commentary.
With the ongoing rains the past month, not only have both the unharvested and harvested rice been severely damaged, but also houses in the village – many of which, being made of mud brick, collapse. I took this picture a few years ago, during a similar overly-heavy rainy season.
While some are claiming that these rains are associated with climate change, it should be emphasized that very heavy rains – on an irregular basis – are a characteristic of the area. Whether or not the current rains are linked to climate change is thus a moot question.
Looking east along the Imbo towards Bujumbura, the two blocks of construction are the village of Kajaga. The original village is the block in back, while the front block, together with the line of construction along the lake, are all within the last five years or so – since the diminishing of hostilities. The picture is taken during a normal rainy season, and stands of water can be seen throughout the wetlands, halting further constructions – a blessing for rice cultivation and other crops. Source: notructingaway.blogspot.com
Tending rice during a normal wet season; mountains of the Congo that rise from the shores of Lake Tanganyika can be seen in the upper right. I snapped this picture before all the construction took place in the Imbo.
Collecting rice straw – an important supplement for use with livestock and for sales. Picture taken about the same time and in the same fields as the one above (c. 2008). Now, all the bananas (in the background) have been removed to make way for houses – which can extend about that far into the wetlands.
Once the rains are over and the water in the Imbo subsides, crops can be planted where the rice was grown.
Harvested rice is spread out to dry, which can be a very tricky business during the rainy season!
The indigenous Ankole cattle are not much bothered by the flooding, as long as they can find a dry spot at night. Source: nakedchefs.com
Whether rice in Burundi?
The rice planted in Burundi , including the Imbo wetlands, is all introduced – in the 19th Century by Swahili and arab traders, for their own use, and more recently by international research institutes (primarily IRRI) and disseminated through extension and NGOs.
IRRI has recently introduced two strains of rice for trials and distribution in Burundi, to address growing demand. See here.
Although there were strain(s) of indigenous rice in the country – and according to local inhabitants these still can be found – as far as I’ve been able to determine these have been neither characterized nor investigated through trials. If I’m incorrect, please let me know!
Map of african indigenous rices – both domestic and wild. Source: National Academy of Sciences.
Other blog entries on rice can be found here: