The Observers

DR Congo: Uvira, a city devastated by the rising waters of Lake Tanganyika

Collapsed walls, destroyed houses, a sunken port... In Uvira, one of the main cities of South Kivu in eastern DR Congo, Lake Tanganyika continues to rise.
Collapsed walls, destroyed houses, a sunken port... In Uvira, one of the main cities of South Kivu in eastern DR Congo, Lake Tanganyika continues to rise. © Observers

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the banks of Lake Tanganyika have overflowed for the second year in a row. Since mid-April, thousands of people have been left homeless and without assistance in the town of Uvira, in South Kivu. NGOs have alerted the Observers team to the catastrophic humanitarian situation.

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In mid-April, several weeks of torrential rains caused the unexpected flooding of Lake Tanganyika. The waters overflowed more than 500 meters inland, sweeping away more than 6,000 houses. Without shelter, victims are now living in rudimentary camps in makeshift tents made out of tarpaulins. 

André Byadunia is the coordinator of the New Civil Society of Uvira. He told us about the poor conditions in which people are living:

Several houses collapsed, others are still standing. The waters reached up to three meters high. The humanitarian situation of the victims is deplorable because they are confined in makeshift sites they built themselves. They also run the risk of catching water-borne diseases, because they have no toilets. They have no water to drink, even water for housework does not exist. And they don't have mosquito nets either. Children and pregnant women, especially, are catching malaria. 

In 2020, the first flood of Lake Tanganyika and its tributaries displaced thousands and caused 40 deaths. Due to climate change, the rainy seasons in this region have become more intense, making flooding an even more serious risk. But specialists also blame the overexploitation of the areas surrounding the lake.