Civil war officially ended in Burundi in 2006. For several years thereafter, there have been sporadic fights and attacks, but these, too, have dwindled to almost ‘zero’.
What changes has a blanket of peace brought? This blog concentrates on post-war activities on the north end of Lake Tanganyika through photos – especially areal photos.
Burundi, the small green ‘heart’, is to the east of Lake Tanganyika. Source. countriesfactbook.com
The lake is situated within the Albertine Rift, the western branch of the geographic feature known as the East African Rift, and is confined by the mountainous walls of the valley. It is the largest rift lake in Africa and the second largest lake by volume in the world. It is the deepest lake in Africa and holds the greatest volume of fresh water. It extends for 676 km (420 mi) in a general north-south direction and averages 50 km (31 mi) in width. The lake covers 32,900 km2 (12,700 sq mi), with a shoreline of 1,828 km (1,136 mi) and a mean depth of 570 m (1,870 ft) and a maximum depth of 1,470 m (4,820 ft) (in the northern basin) it holds an estimated 18,900 cubic kilometres (4,500 cu mi). It has an average surface temperature of 25 °C and a pH averaging 8.4.
Our area of interest is the north coast of the lake, which extends from the small town of Uvira in the Congo (left side of the lake), over to the town of Bujumbura, Burundi, with the Rusizi River flowing into the lake
Source: open access
The northern end of the lake as seen from above Bujumbura. The finger sticking out is the delta of a minor river entering the lake.
1. Burundi; 2. Hotel Club du Lac Tanganyika; 3. Kajaga Village, 4. Rusizi Wetlands.
Closeup of the Rusizi Wetlands, a national park, with the small border town of Gatumba to the left of the river. Note in this and the following photos (both taken about 10 years ago) there are few constructions along the lake. The following photos show how, following peace, that has changed.
The Hotel Club du Lac shows as a ‘W’ shape, with a straight road leading north to the village of Kajaga (on the left of the road) and beyond. The two compounds to the left of the Hotel is where we were located with our restocking project for 7 years. The parcels were sold, once peace seemed a reality, and we’re now located towards the village. Source: Google 2008.
Note in the above and in several of the following photos, that there are few constructions near the lake. The following photos show how, following peace, that has changed.
Taken c. 1998, the Hotel is shown in ruins – it had been totally pillaged by robbers, rebels, and others. And note the absence of other buildings. along either side of the road that leads to the Congo.
West side of the Hotel, showing the complete emptying of room contents, doors, etc. by robbers and others… The picture was taken from the platform of our old compound, during a full moon.
Taken recently, towards Bujumbura, showing the recent explosion of homes and resorts along the lake and to the back. Source: notrustingaway.blogspot.com
In the above photo, houses can be seen built from the road back to the village of Kajaga, which now is becoming an urban suburb of Bujumbura. The only reason homes are not built further down is the existence is a huge wetlands area next to the Rusizi Reserve.
A view in the opposite direction towards the Rusizi Wetlands, also showing buildup of homes. There is now considerable pressure on the Wetlands Park, which is the home of crocodiles, hippos, gazelles, and many kinds of birds that are winging their way either north or south. Source: traumarecoveryinrwanda.com
Following an intensive project of rehabilitation, the Hotel Club du Lac Tanganyika is now a resort for tourists, a center for business meetings, and a much-loved haunt of locals seeking a bit of quiet.
In Kajaga Village, across the way from the Hotel, peace has also brought many changes that have been possible since the introduction of electricity and regularization of water delivery.
The main street of Kajaga that I took a few years ago. Bucolic – but with no electricity, or multiple water points, or good security.
The same street, corner of the church (see in the above picture) is on the right – but with trees cut in order to lay out the electrical grid – the most exciting event since the coming of peace.
And just a 5 minute walk takes you down to the calm beaches of the Hotel.