Congo floods kill 45, likely to worsen ongoing cholera outbreak
Landslides and flooding in the past week in Congo's capital, Kinshasa have killed 45 people and left thousands homeless, the Red-Cross says. The flooding is also likely to exacerbate an ongoing cholera outbreak.
"What we must especially keep in mind is that, according to the report, I think almost 75 % of Kinshasa's districts are self-built. What that means is that in general there's no viability, so you have no gutters, there is no asphalt on the roads, and you even sometimes have problems with access to power, sometimes problems accessing water”.
“Almost 75 percent of Kinshasa's neighbourhoods and the neighbourhoods said to be 'urbanised', you have 'over-densification'. So for example you have a plot of land earmarked for one family and now, in this same plot, you find five or six, seven, eight households in there. What we call 'over-densification'. That's more or less the situation”, said Jambo Kambaza, President of the Infrastructure and Land Development Committee of the Economic and Social Council.
Evariste Kazadi says he has lost most of his belongings but counts himself lucky because he managed to save his children. His neighbour's five children died in the floods.
"I lost all my diplomas, clothes - the clothes I am wearing now are from good samaritans. All I have left are those two chairs that you see over there. Everything is gone! Everything is gone because there was really a lot of water and I thought if this had happened when I was at work, where I often sleep, if I had not been at home, I would have lost my children. But because I was at home I was able to get out with my children because when my wife woke up she went straight out on her own," he said.
Heavy rains began late on Wednesday (January 3) and continued through to Sunday, sweeping through homes, collapsing walls and causing landslides through many parts of the city, officials say.
The flooding is also likely to exacerbate an ongoing cholera outbreak - the worst seen in DRC in 20 years, the World Health Organization says. The disease has killed at least 1 190 people and spread to 24 of the country's 26 provinces since it broke out in July. About 55 000 cases have been recorded.
In Kinshasa, cholera has been spreading quickly due to overcrowding, poor sanitation and lack of access to drinking water. The city of 12 million people is prone to flooding. It has notoriously poor infrastructure, improvised wooden shacks line the waterfront of the Congo River and dirt roads often flood with the first rainfall.
The government blames last week's flooding on blocked drainage caused by unauthorised settlements.