DR Congo


News and Press Release
Originally published
Geneva, 14th January 2010

During the night of 31 December 2009 an alarm was raised by the Goma Volcano Observatory (GVO) of a possible eruption of the Nyamulagira Volcano. The volcano is one of the two volcanoes; Nyiragongo and Nyamulagira, under observation since the eruption of 2002.

The ongoing eruption is a slow flow of lava from the vents near the ground and not from the top. The stream of lava is advancing slowly and by the 10th January 2010, it had travelled 7 kilometres towards the road between Goma and Sake. Goma Volcano Observatory estimates that it could cover the road within two months. The slow speed of the lava flow is not a direct danger to life, but the chemicals in the ashes and the Tephra (rock fragments) that have been falling around the volcano and reaching as far as Goma pose a serious health problem to people and animals when they contaminate water and food.

The government has appealed to different international NGOs to take action concerning the affected population.


During a rapid assessment by ACT member Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) and other agencies on 10th January 2010, it was observed that drinking water sources (open springs and rainwater catchments) in Sake, Kingi and Rusayo villages now contain unacceptable levels of chemicals and Tephra. The health centres of Sake and Rusayo have reported increasing cases of diseases like diarrhoea, eye diseases and death of domestic animals. People around the volcano have also reported damage to agricultural crops. The contamination may cause serious damage to peoples' internal organs and an irritation to those with respiratory problems.

Experiences from the 2002 response, in which NCA/ACT was involved, showed that many people in the affected population suffered from preventable diseases due to lack of hygiene sensitization and safe water sources.

It is estimated that a total population of 52 096 are now affected, including: 7,901 people from Mugunga (Mumbabiro), 13, 000 from Rusayo and 31,195 from Sake & Kingi localities.

National and international response

In coordination with OCHA, UNICEF, GVO and other international NGOs, ACT members led by NCA have been part of the Rapid Assessment carried out on the 10th January 2010. The response planned will involve:

- Water trucking, semi permanent water piping, water catchment and protection of water sources by constructing a water tank near the spring.

- Local and international NGOs and UN organizations will contribute water pumping and storage equipment as well as food and protection initiatives for both people and animals. The Government of North Kivu will provide water trucks for seven days.

The ACT members led by NCA will undertake the WASH activities amongst the population in the affected areas.

Planned Activities

ACT forum members based in Goma, led by NCA, plan to make an emergency response aimed at reducing the emerging risk of water-borne-diseases caused by the eruption of the volcano Nyamulagira. The target population is 12, 678 people for provision of safe water and 22,678 for health education on the danger of the eruption emissions to human health. The target population comprise of households with children, the elderly, disabled people and pregnant/nursing women.

According to NCA field coordinator in Goma, the Volcano Observatory (GVO) has predicted that the eruption may last three months. The ACT forum Coordinator will keep the ACT alliance updated on the situation.

NCA, as a member of the Goma WASH cluster and on behalf of the Goma ACT Forum, has requested Rapid Response Funds (RRF).

Any funding indication or pledge should be communicated to Jessie Kgoroeadira, ACT Finance Officer (jkg@actalliance.org) .

Thank you for your attention.

For further information please contact:

ACT Deputy General Secretary, Jill Hawkey (phone +41 22 791 6069) or

ACT Program Officer, Katherine Ireri (phone +41 22 791 6040 or mobile phone +41 79 433 0592)

ACT Web Site address: http://www.act-intl.org (new ACT Alliance web site will be launched in March)