With a heavy environmental toll, the latest floods to hit the city of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are bringing natural disaster prevention back to the forefront in this Central African country.
With power lines down, homes destroyed and livestock swept away, the city of Kinshasa is submerged in water. The floods in the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have destroyed hectares of plantations and caused the death of 120 people, particularly in the councils of Gombe and Matete. “The victims are counted in the main districts of the city. The dead include nine members of the same family, including young children. They were killed in the collapse of their house,” explains Sylvano Kasongo, the head of the Kinshasa police.
The DR Congolese authorities have declared three days of national mourning, while they continue the “search in the rubble” and develop a resilience strategy. The city of Kinshasa, with a population of more than 17 million, is experiencing several environmental problems, notably the supply of drinking water and the management of household waste. This waste ends up in the gutters, blocking the drainage of rainwater.
The DRC has experienced other floods in recent years, notably in November 2019 with heavy rains that caused landslides and killed around 40 people in Kinshasa. In 2020, heavy rains fell on the eastern provinces of South Kivu and Ituri, causing Lake Albert on the Ugandan border to overflow.
The climatic origin of the floods
“These deadly floods are further evidence of the climate change challenge we face together. It is also an example of what we deplore about the support that must come from the countries that pollute. Because our countries do not have the means to protect themselves from the effects of climate change,” said Felix Tshisekedi, President of the DRC. He was speaking from Washington at the US-Africa Summit.
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To prevent the recurrence of natural disasters in the DRC, the authorities of this Central African country have put into service the Congo Hydro-Informatics Centre (CHIC) in July 2021. The new structure, based in Kinshasa, is designed to prevent climatic hazards as part of the Integrated Water Resources Management Project (GIRE). The initiative, financed to the tune of 10.5 million dollars by the Egyptian government, has also enabled the strengthening of the capacities of Congolese experts in irrigation and the control of the hydrometry of the Semuliki River, as well as the construction of 30 boreholes for the supply of drinking water.