BUJUMBURA, 22 February 2012 (IRIN) - At least 2,000 people displaced by recent torrential rains in the area of Gatumba, on the outskirts of Burundi's capital, Bujumbura, need food and shelter, say officials.
The rains destroyed at least 400 houses and there are fears of further damage in the worst-affected Kinyinya, Mushasha and Muyange areas amid ongoing rains.
"They [the houses] are surrounded by water and some continue to [collapse]," Emmanuel Masumbuko, head of the Gatumba Zone, told IRIN.
A majority of the affected families are seeking refuge with neighbours whose houses were not destroyed; some 32 other families as of 21 February were sheltered at a local Anglican church.
"It was raining so heavily [with strong winds] that we could not see where we were going. The only thing we thought of was saving our lives," Josephine Ndabitezimana, who fled her home in Mushasha with her three children, told IRIN.
Marie Jeanne Fitina, whose family of seven is now at the church, said: "We are starving here, we left everything behind, we had flour at home but it is now completely lost. All the food we had has been damaged, even our children are not going to school; their notebooks and uniforms are not usable any more."
Gatumba administration officials appealed to the government and charity organizations to help meet the affected families' shelter needs.
A needs assessment is set to be conducted soon, according to the head of the department of humanitarian action and assistance to victims of disasters, Salvator Ntakiyiruta.