More than 350,000 people need emergency humanitarian aid in Congo-Brazzaville, where three-quarters of the country’s departments are “under water” following torrential rains, the Office for Affairs Coordination has warned (OCHA), Friday January 19. “The floods have left local communities without shelter and access to primary health services. Villages, schools and health facilities have been flooded, and many water points and sanitation facilities are no longer functional,” OCHA said during a briefing in Geneva.

According to the UN agency, “more than 350,000 people are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance, but access is difficult due to flooding and many villages are only accessible by boat or canoe.” . An amount of “$3.6 million [€3.3 million] from the Central Emergency Response Fund has been allocated to meet the most urgent needs of 270,000 people” affected, OCHA said. , while estimating that “more international financing will be necessary” for a lasting solution.

Heavy rains since October have submerged the banks around the Oubangui, a tributary of the Congo River. These rains also caused landslides which swept away homes, particularly in the north of Brazzaville. A state of emergency was officially declared by the Congolese government on December 29. The authorities then announced that they would release 2.4 billion CFA francs (3.6 million euros) to help the victims.

Around three weeks later, nine of the country’s twelve departments still remain “under water” and “a total of 1.8 million people are affected”, notes OCHA. UN agencies have developed a response plan with the Congolese government with a “total budget of around $26 million” and decided that priority sectors include housing and sanitation, among others. These floods could also have longer-term consequences, according to the UN agency, which estimates that “2,300 hectares of cultivated land have been flooded”, raising fears of a drop in agricultural production in the coming months.

These floods also affect the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a country located on the other side of the Congo River. In Kinshasa, tourist sites and residential areas are still under water due to exceptional flooding. The last serious floods in the area date back to 1961.