Torrential rainfall over the past week resulted in devastating floods and landslides in the villages of Bushushu and Nyamukubi, located in South Kivu’s Kalehe territory, according to provincial governor Theo Kasi.
The impact has been severe, with at least 401 reported deaths in the affected areas. Distressing videos depict the destruction caused by the raging water and mud, leaving buildings destroyed and debris scattered across the villages.
Rescue efforts have been hindered by impassable muddy roads, leaving residents with perilous choices such as wading through lakes. Valet Chebujongo, an activist in Kalehe, emphasized the urgent need for a safe relocation site for the victims and urged the population to refrain from using the waterways and the lake during this period.
However, the lack of machinery to clear the mud and landslides on the roads has further complicated the situation, forcing people to resort to crossing the lake, which poses additional risks.
Despite the challenging circumstances, ongoing rescue operations continue in the disaster-stricken region. The provincial government has taken action by relocating affected residents to safer sites and providing medical care for the injured. President Felix Tshisekedi declared a national mourning day on Monday to honour the flood victims. A government delegation has been dispatched to Kalehe to support local response efforts.
The Democratic Republic of Congo, located within the River Congo Basin, frequently experiences flood disasters. Climate change exacerbates these events, as highlighted by a World Bank report that predicts an increase in the frequency and magnitude of climate-related disasters, including flooding, in the country.
This latest tragedy adds to the ongoing struggle of the DRC in dealing with the devastating impacts of flooding. In December, heavy rains caused severe flooding in Kinshasa, claiming the lives of over 120 people.
In 2020, South Kivu witnessed the destruction of over 15,000 homes and the loss of at least 25 lives due to flooding, compounding the challenges faced by a province already ravaged by armed conflict. Months earlier, Kinshasa experienced landslides triggered by torrential rains, resulting in the death of approximately 39 individuals.—AFP