“Tanganyika is on the brink of a deadly disaster. It’s catastrophic cocktail about to blow up,” warned Ulrika Blom, the Norwegian Refugee Council’s (NRC) country director in DR Congo. “The province is a forgotten crisis within a forgotten crisis.”
Over 80 per cent of people sheltering in displacement sites NRC assessed over the past two weeks in Tanganyika have no access to clean drinking water. Three in four people do not have access to latrine toilets.
“Families I met in Kalemie town are surviving in sub-human conditions. I was told about one man who drowned when heavy rain flooded his roofless shelter. Many parents are sleeping standing up or staying awake to avoid the same fate. It’s inconceivable that people are living like this,” Blom added.
Over half a million people in Tanganyika province – or one in five people – have fled their homes because of inter-communal violence over the past 15 months. The majority of families are sheltering in Kalemie and Nyunzu areas.
The assessment revealed that thousands of families have little or no shelter in areas where they have fled to, aside from a basic mosquito net to protect them from harsh elements. With the rainy season well underway, communities are facing the real prospect of disease outbreaks.
“The situation in Tanganyika is truly appalling, yet nobody is talking about it,” said Blom. “The number one priority is providing communities shelter, clean water and sanitation. Not addressing these needs now will have a deadly domino effect. We need to act today, before we are faced with avoidable deaths.”
Despite the immense needs discovered by NRC, shelter, water and sanitation sectors in DR Congo are less than 5 per cent funded, a shocking statistic for a country in which 8.5 million people need assistance.
NRC will carry out a two-month emergency intervention following their latest assessment findings. It urges other aid organisations to act now too.
The United Nations activated its highest Level 3 emergency for DR Congo on 20 October. This puts the country in par with Iraq, Syria and Yemen, the three other crises currently recognised as Level 3 emergencies. This is the strongest mechanism that can be activated. An L3 calls for a stronger response, supported by better coordination and additional emergency funding; all this is required now.