DR Congo

Democratic Republic of the Congo: Floods in Gemena - DREF Operations Update n° 1, Operation n° MDRCD019

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Description of the disaster

Since the beginning of the month of November 2016, rains and winds have hit the town of Gemena, headquarters of the province of Sud-Ubangi. Gemena town is located 3 hours by air (979 Km) from the town of Kinshasa with a total population of 350,511 people (source: Provincial Mayor).

On 9 November 2016, rain and violent winds intensified, causing extensive floods in the Gemena neighbourhoods located on the banks of rivers Mombonga, Sukia and Labo.

The impact of the rains and violent winds caused flash flooding, leaving seven people wounded. These people received first aid and were evacuated to the nearest health centres. A rapid evaluation by the National Society noted that 105 houses were destroyed: 53 of these completely and 52 partially, while the balance of affected families, 173 families, lost their household possessions. Four wells (out of seven) in Gemena town were contaminated with dirty rainwater and 200 household latrines, half of those available, were flooded or entirely swept away. The Gemena region is already affected by cholera (source: Direction of Disease Control, DRC Government). Assessment reports indicate that health facilities have not been affected, however, the human resource capacities are not sufficient and the quality of facilities are lacking. There is a high risk of a public health disease outbreak due to the proliferation of vector and water-borne diseases. In addition, there are concerns about the prevailing access to drinking water, sanitation, and other resources required for personal hygiene.

The flood-affected communities are principally engaged in subsistence agriculture. Most of the people affected by the flood currently are staying either with host families and friends or close to their destroyed or damaged houses. Families are sharing resources and food rations with flood-affected families, thereby stretching their modest resources. In addition, due to contamination of the local water source, primarily women and girls now trek for one kilometre to the nearest water source.

The resettlement of affected families is a high priority as overcrowded shelters/accommodation leads to risk of disease proliferation related to the lack of drinking water and insufficient sanitation infrastructure.

This Operations Update is requesting for a timeframe extension by an additional one month (New end date: 23 March 2017). This situation is due to a number of reasons including the delay in the signing of the Grant Agreement, the security situation in the DRC, which was not as favourable first for the arrival of the Regional Disaster Response Team (RDRT) on the ground and for the launch of activities. Moreover, this period coincided with the end-of-year holiday during which services were at a reduced rate with minimum service both for the National Society and for the IFRC team in the DRC, which also had to provide logistics support in connection with the procurement and delivery of items from Kinshasa to Gemena and also for local procurements in Gemena. It should also be noted that the repeated postponement of flights from Kinshasa to Gemena did not help matters, especially as these flights are only once a week.

The major donors and partners of the DREF include the Red Cross Societies and governments of Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the USA, as well as DG ECHO, the UK Department for International Development (DFID) the Medtronic and Zurich Foundations and other corporate and private donors. The IFRC, on behalf of the Red Cross Society of Democratic Republic of Congo would like to extend many thanks to all partners for their generous contributions.