DR Congo

Democratic Republic of the Congo - River Floods OCHA Situation Report No.1

Democratic Republic of the Congo - River Floods
OCHA Situation Report No. 1
This report summarises information received from the office of the Humanitarian Coordinator, Kinshasa on 1st and 2nd of December.


1. The level of the Congo in Kinshasa stands actually at 5.44m. By comparison in 1961 the high water mark was 5.20m. Two thirds of Kinshasa's 150 sq.km surface is built on plains and therefore vulnerable to flooding. 15 out of a total of 24 communes are concerned. In fact, thirteen communes are already affected by the rising water levels. Up to last night, 20,000 people were rendered homeless and had been evacuated by city authorities, national and international NGOs, such as MSF.

2. Several factors are causing particular alarm:

  • During the previous floods -1961- the river reached peak levels in December lasting until January. These levels have already been surpassed in November, whereas the peak of the rainy season is expected in the course of this month. The risk of having to move a considerable portion of Kinshasa's 6 million people to safer places is high.
  • Millions of people depend on bore holes for their fresh water supplies. The floods however, have caused a rise of the sub-terrain water sheet and consequently the risk of contamination.
  • The water catching station in Njili which removes sand from river water prior to conducting it to water purification stations, is exposed to flooding which could have catastrophic consequences. Three of its six engines have been stopped. 70 percent of Kinshasa's population depend on the functioning of this station. Water rationing is already in place in certain areas of Kinshasa. In addition, floodwaters are threatening the Inga hydraulic installation which provides power to Kinshasa and Brazzaville.

National Response

3. An appeal for international solidarity with the victims has been launched by the Minister of Health on 30 November. In view of a situation which threatens to paralyse the economic, political and administrative life of the city, a Committee against the floods has been set up, chaired by the Minister of Health. The Governor of Kinshasa and the Humanitarian Coordinator are serving as first and second vice chairmen. The Committee has formulated a Plan of Action on the assumption that 1.5 million people would become victims if Kinshasa were flooded. Several coordination meetings with the diplomatic corps, UN agencies, the Red Cross, ICRC and NGOs have taken place. Today members of the Committee are visiting affected sites. On return the findings will be shared with the local donor community, and a common strategy for assistance will be discussed. In view of the arrival of UN observers as well as of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, the UN system will play an active role in assisting the national efforts by providing direct assistance and being a catalyst for the mobilisation and channeling of aid from the international community.

4. International Response

  • Belgium and Italy have indicated food assistance for the displaced population.
  • ECHO is ready to consider funding the requests from its NGO partners.
  • UNDP will consider its assistance on the basis of forthcoming official requests
  • WFP is in the process of mobilising food assistance.

Donors are asked to note that the 1999 and 2000 CAP's for the DRC, launched by OCHA, do not include assistance in case of natural disasters.

5. Requirements

The Committee has established a preliminary list of requirements in case of a drastic deterioration of the situation. The list includes among others: (details available in OCHA) tents, plastic sheeting, oral dehydration salts, 20 medical kits for 10,000 people each, 100 cartons of biscuits, 10,000 cooking sets, 20,000 ltrs of fuel, 100 tonnes chlorine. Food stuffs for an estimated 500,00 people for 3 months.

6. OCHA is prepared to serve as a channel for cash contributions for the immediate relief needs. Funds channelled through OCHA will be spent in coordination 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.

7. For coordination purposes, donors are requested to inform OCHA Geneva, as indicated below, of relief missions, pledges or contributions and their corresponding values by item.

8. This Situation Report and further information on ongoing emergencies are also available on the OCHA Internet Website at: http://www.reliefweb.int.

Telephone number: + 41-22-917-12 34
In case of emergency only: + 41-22- 917 20 10

Desk Officers: Mr. Klaus Wiersing, Head, Africa Desk
Ms. Yasuko Sawada, Associate Humanitarian Affairs Officer
Disaster Response Branch, direct Tel:+41 22 917 2270/+4122 917 1768
Contact person for the media: Ms. Elena Ponomareva, direct tel:+41-22-917 23 36
Telex 4142 42 OCHA CH
Fax: + 41-22 917 00 23
E-mail: Ochagva@un.org


UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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