OCHA Situation Report No. 4
26 January 2000
This report summarises developments between 22 November 1999 and 12 January 2000 as they were presented at the final meeting of the Crisis Committee on 15 January. The report submitted by the Government, 'Premier Rapport Synthétique' is available at OCHA Geneva.
1. The drastic increase of the water levels of the Congo River basin from a normal of 3.70m to 5.20m, led the Kinshasa authorities to launch an appeal for international solidarity with the flood affected population on 30 November.
2. An inter-sectoral Crisis Committee was set up by the President and chaired by the Minister of Health. On the recommendation of the UN- Humanitarian Co-ordinator (HC), work began on contingency plans, assuming that 1.5 million people would become victims if all of Kinshasa were flooded. Several rounds of meetings with the diplomatic corps, UN agencies, the Red Cross, ICRC and NGOs took place. At the time, given also the international assistance pledged/received, the situation was considered to be manageable with existing human and financial resources, although the Committee maintained continuous vigilance until mid January.
3. Kinshasa authorities evacuated 65,000 people and accommodated them in 32 sites in Kinshasa. In Bas-Congo the floods made13,000 people homeless. In response, 153 tons of food out of 500 tons received have been distributed as well as 25,000 litres of fuel. A joint government-donor mission to Bas-Congo (Matadi, Inga and Boma), facilitated and financed by OCHA in December 1999, observed water infiltration in the hydroelectric dam in Inga and rising water levels in Boma. The mission also noted considerable damage to the main sugar factory, which produces annually 65,000 tons of sugar for local consumption. As an immediate measure the Government granted a temporary tax exemption and made available emergency funding to maintain production. A detailed inventory of the impact of the floods on the total population as well as on the economic sector has not yet been established.
4. As one of the deputies of the Crisis Committee, the HC facilitated co-ordination meetings through the exchange of information obtained from the affected areas. Four sectoral focal points, co-ordinated by the HC were responsible for ensuring assistance to flood victims: WFP for all food-related issues, the Red Cross Movement for water treatment and sanitation, WHO for the overall health situation and UNDP/OCHA, responsible for the preparation of contingency planning. In addition the Humanitarian Unit provided the Crisis Committee with computerised maps of vulnerable areas. The Unit also suggested specific scenarios for the Committee's contingency planning work. A workshop for all actors involved in the emergency will be held as soon as funds can be found.
5. The international assistance, which has been reported to OCHA as of today, may be found by clicking on Financial Tracking at the top of the page for this disaster on the OCHA Internet Website (http://www.reliefweb.int)
6. These include medicines, clothing, in particular for children and the port infrastructures in Matadi and Boma, which are of great concern. The Ministry of Transport calls for the placing of electronic beacons upstream to improve prevention capacity, as 20 beacons (valued at USD 30,000 each) have been lost during the floods. The dredging capacity also needs improvement. The current capacity is about one tenth of what is required.
7. OCHA is prepared to serve, as a channel for cash contributions for the immediate relief needs. Funds channelled through OCHA will be spent in co-ordination with the relevant organizations of the UN system and OCHA will provide written confirmation of their use. Funds should be transferred to OCHA Account No. CO-590.160.1 SWIFT-code SBC0CHGG12A - at the UBS AG, PO Box 2770, CH-1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland, with reference: OCHA - Democratic Republic of Congo - Floods 1999.
8. For co-ordination purposes, donors are requested to inform OCHA Geneva, as indicated below, of relief missions, pledges or contributions and their corresponding value by item.
9. This Situation Report and further information on ongoing emergencies are also available on the OCHA Internet Website at: http://www.reliefweb.int
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