The UN aid office (OCHA) says unprecedented flooding in the Republic of the Congo has left more than 350,000 people in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.
Some 1.8 million people have been impacted by torrential downpours that have dumped double the usual amount of rainfall on the Congo, impacting nine out of the country’s 12 departments.
In the three weeks since the government in Brazzaville declared an emergency, the floods have destroyed or damaged 34 health facilities, 120 schools and over 64,000 houses.
Many villages can only be reached by boat or canoe, OCHA spokesperson Jens Laerke, said, appealing for 26 million dollars for basic support including shelter, food, health, water, sanitation and hygiene.
“A total of 3.6 million dollars from the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has already been allocated to the emergency.
“But, much more is needed for the people of the Congo due to the destruction of arable land, fruit trees, fishing gear and livestock,” Laerke said.
Heavy rains since October 2023 have submerged the banks around the Oubangui, a tributary of the Congo River.
These rains also caused landslides which swept away homes, particularly in the north of Brazzaville.
A state of emergency was officially declared by the Congolese government on Dec. 29, 2023. The authorities then announced that they would release 2.4 billion CFA francs (3.6 million euros) to help the victims.
These floods could also have longer-term consequences, according to the UN agency, which estimates that “2,300 hectares of cultivated land have been flooded,” raising fears of a drop in agricultural production in the coming months.