Devastating floods in the Democratic Republic of Congo

This year’s rainy season is proving to be deadly for the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

More than 120 people have been killed following the worst floods in years in Kinshasa, the capital city.

‘It started with small rains and then the rain just got bigger and bigger,’ – Alphonse Mata, who works with Tearfund and Bin Twinning in Kinshasa, the Congolese capital.

Landslides and sinkholes

Kinshasa is home to around 15 million people and is located on the River Congo. Those who live close to the river have had to move out of their homes due to the widespread flooding. People don’t live close to the river out of choice – they don’t have the money to live anywhere safer. And now, lives, homes and livelihoods have been lost to the floods.

Major roads in the city centre have been submerged, houses and roads ripped apart by sinkholes, and there have been landslides in the hillside areas of the city.

But, along with the floods, there’s another huge problem everyone in Kinshasa is having to deal with: the mountains of waste.

Plastic disaster

There is no formal plastic waste collection in Kinshasa.

People who live close to the river often throw their waste into it, as there’s no other place for them to dispose of it. They also use the plastic as flood defences; building up small piles of plastic along the river to try to protect their homes.

The plastic blocks the river from draining properly, and so when the rains come, floods quickly follow. Across Kinshasa, there have been up to two metres of flood water, which is filled with waste, and has reached up to people’s roofs.

And where there’s flooding, waterborne diseases, such as cholera and diarrhoea, are not far behind. Many people – including children – have already become sick from the unclean water.

Poverty and plastic

One of the programmes that Bin Twinning and Tearfund’s partner runs in Kinshasa is a hub to reuse plastic waste. It helps clean up the city and creates jobs for local people, who not only collect plastic waste but also turn it into tiles.

The plastic tiles have been approved by the government for use and are being used to build roads and for paving slabs in schools.

A close up of dark brown geometric shaped triangular bricks being carried in a wheelbarrow.

Bricks made from collecting plastic waste and recycling it. 

But these rains have been devastating for our local partner – and for the workers. The hub where the work is carried out was flooded, along with our partner’s offices. There were also lots of plastic that had been collected by people, which was then washed away in the floods – further adding to the waste problems in the city.

Many people in Kinshasa are paid daily for their work and so these floods will have lost people vital income – money they cannot afford to lose.

The money raised by Twinning your Bin provides seed funding to help set up social enterprises that provide affordable waste management for neighbourhoods.

These initiatives collect rubbish, dispose of it safely, and recycle as much as possible. All of this creates jobs and restores dignity for local people, as well as protecting people’s health and cleaning up the local environment.

Support the people of Kinshasa by twinning your bin and helping to make a dent in the huge plastic pollution problem that increases the devastating impacts of flooding. 

 

Thank you to Tearfund who Bin Twinning works closely alongside for the majority of the content in this article.