Congo, a country located in central Africa and is home to a large part of the Congo Rainforest and Basin. However, the nation is currently feeling the wrath of mother nature with floods most likely caused by the beginning of global climate change.
Floods swept through eastern parts of Congo, killing at least 25 people. According to the administrator of the Uvira territory, 45 more people were injured and around 3,500 were destroyed when the Mulongwe river began to flood last Friday.
According to the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), torrential rain fell in the city of Uvira and surrounding areas in South Kivu, from 16 to 17 April 2020.
Due to the heavy rain, the Mulongwe river banks broke in Uvira city, causing mass floods that left many homeless. A lot of damage was done materially which is going to add to the financial crisis that Covid-19 has already bought to Congo and many countries around the world.
Governor of the province – Theo Kassi – reported that as of 17th April, at least 3,500 homes had been demolished or damaged, and 7 collapsed bridges or greatly damaged. 78,000 people are suffering without shelter, while roads and drinking water supply has been cut.
Due to the travel and many other restrictions surrounding the coronavirus, it has made humanitarian aid extremely difficult to distribute.
In the current global pandemic, we seem to have forgotten the greatest pandemic of them all, climate change. Are these floods a sign of what is to come?
Remy Zahiga – a climate activist from Congo said, “It should be noted that these floods cause enormous damage, for example the loss of human life, the destruction of schools and houses, the fields and crops washed away, the destruction of road infrastructure which has deprived certain traffic routes.” – when asked how these floods have affected you and the community.
It is a clear sign that these natural events have occurred before and some say it could be the start of climate change showing their her true colours.
Similar events took place earlier this year in January and of December 2019 in Haut Lomani province, Nord-Ubangi, Bukavu and now current flooding of the city of Uvira.
As most parts of Africa do not have the luxury of science education, some of the population regard these events to be the act of god and other climate activists believe it is the work of mother nature.
Remy explains the division between superstition and climate change believers in Africa, “The peasant population interpreted that the recent floods that hit the city of Uvira is an act of the gods because the MWami of this region has not organised certain ancestral ceremonies for a few years, so the gods have taken revenge by sending floods to punish the population.”
*Mwami is a customary chief or king of a given region.
However, Remy is a firm believer in the science that backs climate change. The Congo Rainforest could play a part in these floods due to the fact of losing thousands of hectares in a just a few years. In addition, the reserves surrounding the rain-forest also undergo mining and other forms of external heating.
“The loss of green spaces can therefore disturb region climates which can subsequently cause heavy and unusual rains with detrimental effects.”
The knock on affects that these floods cause are extremely harmful to all the communities, especially amid the current virus pandemic. The food production will be disrupted for an unknown time and the destruction of houses will leave many exposed to the natural disaster, along with being vulnerable to catch Covid-19.
He said, ” The population is very exposed to diseases because of social distancing and the hygienic rules are not being respected. Therefore, it is going to take a long time for the things to go back to normal.”
“Famine will hit the region and some fields will no longer be fertile.”
Climate change is a factor that is going to affect everyone on the planet. Some places are currently experiencing symptoms now and some are still brushing it aside.
Floods popping up in parts of Africa and extreme wildfires in Australia are just a couple of examples of climate change beginning to say hello to the human race.
We should look at these mishaps as a warning to act now. Surely it cannot be a hoax? We still have some deniers out there, but maybe they are lacking the first hand experience of natural disasters.
Remy highlighted that the “little ones” of Earth are experiencing it more, rather than the developed nations.
“Climate change is something that strikes the whole world, but now, certain regions of the world, the little ones live the plague, some are struck by drought, the others by cyclones, the lack of water, the foods and famine.”
Whether you are from a region of the world that is experiencing symptoms now or aren’t just yet, we should look at one another and help, protect and work together to fight the inevitable.
Credit: William Wand