Burundi has to contend with significant ecological problems. The high population density in Burundi has resulted in most of the area being used for agriculture. Due to the high population growth and the associated pressure to use it, the situation in the food sector will worsen further, as the soils are already being worked intensively wherever possible. Fallow land is hardly possible any more, but with the poorly fertile soil that is available, it would be necessary and sensible to guarantee production. Subsistence farming characterizes the rural areas, only coffee and tea are produced for export. The climate change exacerbates the situation, droughts are becoming more frequent and apparently longer, and springs are drying up. A reform of land policy in Burundi is urgently needed. Lately one tries increasingly the floodplains to manage and generally to the climate change set. But there is a lack of comprehensive programs.
Another problem is the increasing pollution of Lake Tanganyika from industrial sewage. There is an urgent need for action here in order not to endanger the important freshwater resource. In this context, the overfishing of the lake is a growing problem, which has ecological and economic effects on the one hand and nutritional-physiological consequences (fish as a source of protein for the population).
In Bujumbura, garbage has become a problem in recent years. The logistics of waste disposal as well as the possible recycling face major challenges.
In the EPI (Environmental Performance Index), Burundi was ranked 167 out of 180 countries in 2014, and four years later (2018) the last place (180/180 countries!). It is to be feared that the protection of the environment will continue to be one of the last places in the government’s concentration on maintaining power and a multitude of other pressing problems.
Deforestation and soil erosion
The hilly landscape with steep slopes prevailing in the central part of the country favors soil erosion when cultivation methods are not adapted. According to areacodesexplorer, the high rate of deforestation for firewood and construction wood increases the risk of soil loss on the slopes and will lead to a shortage of energy resources in the future, since wood or charcoal is the most important energy source in rural Burundi. Even now that are most forest areas heavily deforested been; There is hardly any reforestation with native woods. Between 1990 and 2010, Burundi lost 40% of its forest area. The use of eucalyptus wood is widespread, so that plantings with this tree species, which originally came from Australia, are superimposed on other reforestation initiatives. The climate change makes the rural areas in Burundi especially strong. Organic agriculture to reduce landscape degradation and to preserve biodiversity as well as terracing the steep slopes is only carried out very rarely. The biggest problem is the intensive use of agricultural land, although higher production rates can only be achieved through the considerable use of fertilizers and chemical pesticides. The strong deforestation also has an impact on the microclimate and thus on other factors such as increasing the risk of malaria. Contiguous forest areas are getting smaller and smaller. Irregular rainfall, lower rainfall and the resulting increased number of bad harvests are further consequences. As early as the 1990’s, people were aware that forests were worth protecting. Reforestation activities took place, but not only with native species, but above all with fast-growing exotic tree species whose properties do not have the same ecological value as the native vegetation. However, erosion protection is increasingly becoming the focus of various – above all international – campaigns against hunger and poverty in Burundi.
Burundi is also particularly affected by the possible effects of climate change. In view of the high dependence on subsistence agriculture, an agriculturally difficult topography and the high population density, Burundi is severely affected by the expansion of extreme weather events such as the increase in droughts or floods. The climate seems particularly for an extension of the dry season to be responsible in the summer. The problem of desertification is already evident in some parts of the country. Due to the intensive deforestation of the forests, inappropriate land use methods, soil erosion and the increase in dry periods, Burundi has to struggle more and more with this phenomenon, which also has a negative effect on the productivity of agriculture. As a result of increased droughts, fires are also responsible for the destruction of large parts of areas worthy of protection. At the moment, the population can only react very inflexibly to prolonged dry periods, periodic floods or staggered rainy and dry seasons. An adjustment is to climate change, especially in agriculture, therefore, a large but necessary challenge for the coming years.In 2019, Burundi will also be hit by prolonged rainfall with floods in April 2020.