Storms in Kalima, Province of Maniema, Democratic Republic of Congo
by Deocard Chirha Murhambo
Earlier this month, torrential rain accompanied by violent wind fell on Kalima in Maniema Province, Democratic Republic of Congo, causing both material and human damage. Based on various reports (Shelter Cluster / AME and Humanitarian Affairs Division) it appears that 928 residential houses, 46 schools and health centres, seven churches, two administrative offices and one market were destroyed. Forty-seven people were injured and hospitalised, while 2,285 people from 851 households were made homeless. Fortunately, they were received in by host families or into public spaces not affected by the disaster.
The villages most affected were Kakutya, Salukwango, Kamundala 1, Kamundala 2, Kinkungwa, Tunpanga, Lusolo, Mukombe, Mobile, Mulungu, Lubile, and Lutala. According to reports from the multisectoral rapid assessment (MRA), 250 hectares of cassava and rice crops have been destroyed, while some families have lost all of their assets—these having been washed away or swallowed up by rainwater. Kalima has 150,000 inhabitants living mainly from subsistence agriculture (rice, cassava, palm oil) and sometimes from the artisanal exploitation of minerals, including gold. Its geographic isolation and poor governance exacerbate its vulnerability in the face of such a crisis.
Efforts toward crisis response
During a meeting with Christian Aid Maniema, it became clear that up to that point, only the local community had supported the victims. However, the humanitarian community soon conducted a multisectoral rapid assessment (MRA) and made a number of recommendations for a rapid response in terms of shelter, essential household items, food/non-food assistance, and healthcare. Start Network members active in the area (CAFOD, Christian Aid, Help Age and Tearfund) also raised an alert to the Start Fund.
The funding provided by the Start Fund will allow CAFOD to organise a response in terms of shelter, food and healthcare for a period of 45 days. We hope that at the end of the project, members of the Start Network will propose a project or a sustainable development programme aimed at improving the socio-economic situation of the inhabitants of Kalima, thereby strengthening their resilience. Ideally, this project or programme will be developed using a participatory approach, involving various stakeholders in the province.
The potential impact of COVID-19
Like every other country, DRC is also being affected by the current global pandemic, COVID-19. The country has officially declared 45 cases to date, including two deaths in Kinshasa. Last week, the president took a series of measures to protect the population, which will last for four weeks. People are being encouraged to stay home, significantly reduce the number of meetings and rallies, and observe good handwashing practices. However, it can be difficult for the population of DRC to comply with these prevention guidelines as many are forced into public places to make a living. In addition, it is difficult to stay home without a minimum supply of food and personal care items.
Although no cases have yet been reported in the provinces, organisations and many other socioeconomic actors have reduced their presence in the field. As a result, the delivery of assistance to those affected by the storms might be delayed.
The Start Fund is collectively owned and managed by Start Network’s members, and supported by the governments of the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Netherlands, Germany, Jersey and the IKEA Foundation.