Thousands upon thousands of individuals residing in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are currently residing in provisional housing and anticipating assistance from the government following the nation’s most severe flood in 60 years.
Over 300 individuals have lost their lives and more than 280,000 households across more than half of the nation have been displaced due to heavy rainfall beginning in late November. Additionally, over 1,500 schools, 267 health facilities, 211 markets, and 146 roads have been affected by the damage.
In January, the authorities announced a hydrological and ecological disaster when the Congo River flooded and caused flooding in the capital, Kinshasa.
The president of the country, Félix Tshisekedi, who was re-elected in December after a controversial election, recently instructed his ministers to address the crisis.
On the previous Saturday, Modeste Mutinga Mutuishayi, the minister in charge of humanitarian efforts, was sent to supervise the delivery of blankets, cooking pots, and tents to 900 families in the city.
However, Jackson Lukungula, a resident of Tshopo province in the northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, expressed concern that the government has not addressed the issue of flooding and has not yet provided assistance to affected areas.
The high school in Kisangani is currently facing overwhelming circumstances. Despite this, the government has not taken any action. As a result, numerous students are having to alter their usual routes to school due to flooding in the streets. According to reports, a Catholic convent has also been affected by the floods, but both the central and provincial governments have not taken any measures to address the situation.
Mado Ekembe, a resident of Cité du Fleuve, a residential area in Kinshasa situated on the Congo River, expressed no surprise at the lack of action, stating that they consistently experience flooding without any assistance from the Congolese government.
We hope that our country’s authorities would behave like those in neighboring countries like the Republic of Congo, located across the Congo River. When a disaster occurs there, government officials respond promptly and provide food and necessary supplies to aid those affected. However, in our country, the authorities do not take any action. We have never received any assistance or communication from the government during times of flooding.
A total of 17 individuals have lost their lives and 320,000 individuals have been impacted by the floods in the Republic of Congo. The capital city of Brazzaville, which is situated across the river from Kinshasa, has been greatly affected.
The head of the Department of Humanitarian Affairs in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Jackson Luneno, stated that evaluations of people’s necessities are ongoing due to high water levels and inaccessible roads, which are hindering officials from reaching many flooded regions. The department is also awaiting approval from the treasury for an emergency budget.
“The biggest obstacle we’ve faced is financial constraints. Our budget for this year is 2 billion Congolese francs,” Luneno stated.
Our system for managing humanitarian affairs is currently in its early stages. We are collaborating with UN agencies to create a system for humanitarian intervention that will enable us to be prepared for disasters at all times.
The country of Japan has generously provided tents, blankets, and mattresses to assist with the relief effort. Additionally, China has contributed $100,000 (£78,000) in aid. Luneno expressed hope that other nations will also offer support once their teams have assessed the specific needs of the affected region.
Médecins Sans Frontières, a charitable organization, has established a rapid response medical facility in Kinshasa. To date, 150 individuals have received treatment for malaria and 65 for typhoid fever. According to Dago Inagbe, the head of MSF’s mission in Kinshasa, some patients have expressed feelings of distress and even thoughts of self-harm due to their loss of possessions.
Emmanuel Yaki, a 70-year-old former mechanic residing in the Kinsuka-Pêcheurs neighborhood of the capital, is currently selling various pieces of wood and furniture that float by his property. He recently sold a black wood doorway for 23,000 francs by using a hook to retrieve it. He plans to continue selling wood and planks to merchants in the near future.
Numerous residences in Kinsuka-Pêcheurs were inundated. Yaki managed to rescue some of his possessions due to his two-story house. “Flooding is a common occurrence at the end of each year, but this time it’s on a massive scale,” he remarked while collecting plastic bottles that were drifting by his residence.
Alice Shabani, age 52, is providing shelter for three families who are currently homeless. She acted quickly when she heard cries of distress from people whose homes were being flooded near her property. Without hesitation, she opened her home to them. She empathizes with their situation and it brings her to tears, as if she herself were experiencing it.
According to Shabani, the water has reached the boundary of her land and she is concerned that her house may sustain damage if there is more precipitation.