In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), continued heavy flooding from the end of April, has caused UNICEF to warn of a potential outbreak of cholera.
The Mulongwe River has burst its banks: flooding has damaged the local water treatment facility and destroyed the principal health facility in the area. More than 15,000 homes have been damaged, over 100,000 people have been displaced and about 200,000 have experienced water supply disruption due to the flooding.
UNICEF estimates that about 50,000 children have been affected and the agency is concerned that the continued disruption in water supply will heighten the risk of cholera in an area that has reported almost 2,000 cases since January 2020.
“Our teams on the ground and our trusted local partners are working around the clock to provide health and nutrition support to thousands of families and their children,” Edouard Beigbeder, UNICEF Representative in DRC, said 5 May. While our interventions also aim at protecting the affected communities from COVID-19, we must not forget that the people of South Kivu are faced with protracted conflict, displacement, natural disasters and disease outbreak that need our immediate attention.”
UNICEF and its partners AAP, AVREO, Red Cross, INTERSOS, Médecins d’Afrique, and Oxfam are currently providing the critical services, including:
- Medical assistance to children under five, the elderly and vulnerable women
- Supply of basic medicines and equipment to health centres
- Nutrition support to children suffering from severe acute malnutrition
- Delivery of infection prevention and control supplies
- Installation of 6 water treatment stations providing 240,000 litres of water per day;
- Routine vaccination services to children in the Uvira Health Zone.
The densely populated town of Uvira, at the centre of the current crisis, and surrounding areas host a large number of internally displaced people and refugees from Burundi which is suffering from internal unrest and violence. There are currently more than 5 million internally displaced people – 58 per cent children – in DRC who are in dire need of humanitarian assistance.