©FAO

Democratic Republic of the Congo | FAO and Belgium support farming households affected by the volcanic eruption in Goma

29/06/2021

The eruption of Nyiragongo volcano in Goma worsened the food insecurity of populations already affected by the upsurge in violence, climatic hazards and epidemics, generating high chronic needs.

On May 22, the volcanic eruption of Mount Nyiragongo in Goma significantly impacted households’ agricultural and livestock activities, exacerbating vulnerabilities. The lava flow caused considerable loss of life – at least 3 people and damages, with around 4 000 families losing their homes. On May 27, Congolese authorities ordered a partial evacuation of the city of Goma due to the risk of another volcanic eruption, and hundreds of thousands of people left the city the following days. Many of them fled by road, towards Sake, west of Goma, and Rutshuru in the north, while others fled by boat on Lake Kivu to Bukavu.

About 8 000 people have crossed the border into Rwanda and, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund, 1 340 children were separated from their families in Goma, Sake and Bukavu (to date, 1 038 have been reunited with their families). Since Monday, 7 June, the displaced populations have been officially instructed to return to the city of Goma, following the reduced risk of a new eruption. In addition, the communities of Masisi and Nyiragongo were the most affected, especially by the presence of internally displaced people (IDPs) and by the volcanic ashes that adversely affected the July harvest and animal health.

 

Des enfants de la ville viennent constater les dégâts près de la coulée de la lave séchée

Children of the city go to see the damages caused by the lava flow. ©FAO

 

If no humanitarian assistance is provided, host communities in these areas will face difficulties for the next harvest (JanuaryFebruary 2022) and will be forced to further deplete their productive assets. The volcanic eruption is worsening an already critical humanitarian crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The levels of acute food insecurity are alarming, with 27.3 million people in Phase 3 or above of the latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification analysis for the period of February-July 2021. Conflict and population displacement continue to disrupt households’ livelihoods and worsen food insecurity among populations, particularly in the provinces of Ituri, North Kivu, South Kivu and Maniema.

In response, FAO is launching a project entitled “Emergency support to host communities affected by the volcanic eruption in North Kivu”, thanks to the contribution of USD 250 000 from Belgium through SFERA, to assist 950 households (5 700 people) for nine months.

The project aims to strengthen the resilience of vulnerable affected households and restore their livelihoods, especially poor households most of whom depend on agriculture as their main source of food and income. FAO will also support the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo through civil protection mechanisms and the United Nations’ coordinated response plan to support IDPs and returnees through a multi-phase approach (shelter, non-food items, water, sanitation and hygiene, camp management, health and food).

Responding to the most urgent needs of affected communities is crucial, although longer-term solutions will also be essential to enable people to recover from recurring shocks. FAO therefore plans to carry out emergency input distributions to prepare for the September 2021 sowing season, as well as small livestock restocking. “Emergency agriculture will quickly restore the livelihoods of displaced populations and strengthen those of host communities, focusing on input distributions - agricultural tools, seeds, livestock - and ensuring a technical support”, explained Aristide Ongone Obame, FAO Representative in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The project will enable beneficiary communities to strengthen local nutritious food production, maintaining their access to food, stabilizing their income and diversifying their diets, thereby improving their food security.