Rising water levels of Lake Tanganyika is swallowing homes and roads in surrounding towns.
The lengthy Lake Tanganyika is the second deepest freshwater lake in the world, after Siberia's Lake Baikal. The lake is shared between four countries, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Tanzania, Burundi and Zambia. But now, this giant's waters are swallowing homes and roads, leaving scores of people homeless. Experts say that due to persistent heavy rain, floods, strong winds and geological shifts, the lake waters have risen by perhaps over five metres in recent years.
Inhabitants of Kalemi, a province in Democratic Republic of Congo located on the shores of the lake, have been particularly impacted. Kalemi, also spelled Kalemie, also called Lukuga, is a southeastern town in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Dozens there have lost their homes or plots of land, while many others have been forced to find shelter in local schools and churches. A local woman spoke to journalists and showed them heaps debris and skeletons of destroyed homes on the lake's shores. According to her, rising water levels have destroyed the province's port, disrupting local trade. Kalemi is a port on the west bank of Lake Tanganyika where the Lukuga River exits, and it has an airport and rail links to Lubumbashi and Kananga, so it is a thriving mini district for local businesspeople. She goes on to express, "we're living through a nightmare, Tanganyika has destroyed us all...we don't know how our lives will be tomorrow."
Just recently in 2020, people that were situated in northwest Burundi were forced to flee their homes due to rising water levels of the lake. Some locals stated that it was the worst they'd seen the water in 40 years. A lady recalled back in April this year, to TheEastAfrican publication, about her experience of returning home from working in the fields and noticing her entire home, submerged under water with her 10 children missing. She now resides in a makeshift camp behind the lakeside city of Gatumba, which has grown massively in recent decades due to its close proximity to the DRC to its west.
Aluta Simba, another resident, says "only promises" have been made by local authorities to help those who have been displaced by rising water levels. The issue has been increasing for the past 5 years, with residence raising fears of high water level impact on their livelihood, to their government. "Life was better before than the life we are leading today," he adds.
The locals express feelings of inequalities in terms of assistance they receive, and even the people who tragedies like this affect. Socially and economically, people are divided and therefore disasters like this affects them disproportionately; those that need the help most often go unnoticed.
Local politicians – including Senator Francine Muyumba – are now calling the situation "a humanitarian emergency" and calling on the Congolese government to implement aid to solve or to prevent the crisis.
More to follow on this story
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