|Bujumbura through the bus window, July 2012|
This article, by a 36-year-old Burundian pastor, gives the clearest picture of the significance of Bujumbura's Central Market fire of anything I have read. The following is an excerpt, describing the economic impact of this catastrophe:
Please continue to pray for the people of this nation, the fourth poorest country in the world, according to the International Monetary Fund's 2011 gross domestic product per capita (GDP per capita) report. They need wise leadership and great peace as they face the future. Burundi has suffered terribly in its brief time as an independent nation (it celebrated its 50th anniversary last year.) May God grant them courage and strength to deal with this new crisis.It is important to note that our economy is mostly an informal one. This market is home of over 5000 business people, big, medium and small. To this figure, we need to add young people selling things moving here and there, thousands of intermediaries between potential buyers and sellers and you easily get close to double the number of people whose livelihood directly depends to the central market.A world bank commissioned study last year said that daily transactions in the central market are worth $5000, 0000. This is the first business in the country far before the brewery (Brarudi) which serves Rwanda and the Eastern part of DR Congo.It is clear it will take years before people get back to their feet.The situation today is that thousands of families lost everything, food prices have tripled especially for rice and beans (which is what people eat everyday). Some churches have announced they are already receiving people and many threatening to commit suicide. We do not have psychologists who can help with this situation and churches will have to play the role. Already on Sunday, a woman with a baby on the back went into the flames and another man of Senegalese origin forcefully entered into the fire and was consumed by it.Some journalists were comparing this situation with 9/11 – not in the origin of the fire (unknown so far) but in the consequences and taking all the necessary proportions into account!!