Congo’s worst flood in 60 years is wreaking havoc across the Democratic country, leaving thousands homeless and deepening an already critical humanitarian crisis. The floods, which began in late December, continue to affect the nation, with many regions still struggling to recover.

Heavy rains have devastated several areas, including Likouala, Sangha, Cuvette, Plateaux, Niari, Brazzaville, and Pointe-Noire. Over 361 villages have been submerged, displacing countless families and causing extensive damage to homes and infrastructure.

These floods are the most severe the country has witnessed in six decades. It has claimed at least 221 lives and inflicted extensive damage to tens of thousands of homes across sixteen provinces.

The destruction of forests, which usually act as a natural drainage system, has further intensified the flood risk.

“The fear is enormous for Kinshasa, which receives the cumulative flow of the entire Congo basin,” Raphaël Tshimanga a hydrologist at the University of Kinshasa said, highlighting that high levels of deforestation also worsens the impact of heavy rains.

Global Forest Watch reported Congo as the second-highest contributor to tree-cover loss in 2022, worsening flood risks. Tshimanga explained that forests normally mitigate floods by trapping rainwater with their canopy and roots. However, ongoing deforestation has diminished this natural defense mechanism.

With approximately 83 million people residing near major rivers in the Congo basin, the potential for further floods remains a grave concern. Tshimanga warned that the current trend indicates a likelihood of more frequent and severe flooding events in the future.

In response to this emergency, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has escalated its efforts. However, the scale of the disaster necessitates substantial international support and aid to effectively address the crisis.

Congo’s worst flood has left a devastating impact, displacing hundreds of thousands and amplifying health risks in affected communities. Urgent action is imperative to bolster flood management measures and mitigate the long-term consequences of deforestation on flood susceptibility.

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