- Published: 14 June 2021
On 4th June 2021, DRC NDF (Forum Congolais de la Societe Civile du Bassin Du Nil (FCBN-DRCNDF)) released a statement profiling the eruption of Nyiragongo Volcano on May 22, 2021 and here below is the statement. You can download the original statement at bottom of the page.1. Introduction
The Congolese Nile Basin is located in the volcanic mountainous zone and the Albertine rift. All the mountain ranges from the south of the Basin near Goma to Mahagi via Kasenyi are likely to have fire inside; especially in the Province of North Kivu in the Virunga National Park mainly in territories of Rutshuru and Nyirangongo towards the Rwandan border. There are many active volcanoes including Nyiragongo (3,470 m altitude), Nyamulagira (3,058 m altitude), Visoke (3,711 m altitude), Karisimbi (4,507 m altitude), Mayi-ya-Moto (950 m altitude), Tshibinda (1460 m altitude) etc.,
Regarding NYIRAGONGO, it should be noted that this volcano is the most active and it’s classified as the most threatening of all African volcanoes. It had last erupted in 2002, when it destroyed the city of Goma, sweeping through the airport and all the buildings causing significant human and material damages. During the 2002 eruption, more than 250 victims and 100,000 homeless people were recorded.
Since then, the population had just rebuilt the city; the government had put substantial resources there as well as international institutions. Unsurprisingly, the volcano improvised the population on May 22, 2021 around 6:30 p.m, with yet another eruption.
b) The city of Goma
The city of Goma, 75.72 km2, located at an altitude of 1,500 m, is the provincial capital of North Kivu Province. It is a city of over 1 million inhabitants and is is a very important city for the East of the DRC because it is a junction between the DRC and certain countries of the East due to its international airport and its proximity to the countries of the East, in particular Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Kenya and Tanzania.
The city is made up of 2 municipalities:
Ø Municipality of GOMA located in the south of the city with 7 quarters (Mikeno, Katindo, Les Volcans, Kyeshero, Himbi, Mapendo and Lac Vert), and
Ø Municipality of KARISIMBI located in the north of the city and at the end of the Nyiragongo Territory with 11 quarters (Virunga, Katoyi, Ndosho, Mabanga North, Mabanga South, Majengo, Kasika, Kahembe, Murara, Bujovu and Mugunga.
The city is between volcanoes and Lake Kivu which contains a large deposit of methane gas; that position constitutes a double danger of the zone.
2. The evolution of the events.
North Kivu has been a martyred province of insecurity for more than two decades. Militias and armed groups sow death among the population on a daily, women are raped, children forcibly recruited into militias, people's property is stolen, the wealth of the soil and subsoil looted, and homes are set on fire every day. The number of internally displaced people is so high in the Province and the hope of the population is turned towards peace, security, and the development of their area.
According to KASEREKA MAHINDA Célestin, the scientific director of the Observatoire Volcanologique de Goma (OVG), the Nyiragongo volcano unexpectedly erupted on the evening of May 22nd at around 6.30 p.m. Whereas there is an alert siren at the scene, this siren did not sound to alert the population - that's why megaphones were used in quarters to alert residents. That night, residents took various directions to escape: some for Rwanda, others for Sake, a city located 27 km west of Goma. During this eruption, the volcano took the direction of the Vurunga and Buhene quarters towards Rwanda and that of Kibati towards the west, thus closing the Goma-Rutshuru-Butembo road with lava.
It was the arrival of the government delegation of 7 ministers to ascertain the situation. These included the Ministers for Defense, Health, Higher and University Education, Scientific Research, Agriculture, and National Solidarity. This delegation had come to do a preliminary check, to work with the provincial government and volcanologists to propose immediate evacuation measures, to provide the first assistance to the victims, to assess the priority needs and to return to Kinshasa to present to the council of the government.
It was on this day that things got worse because of the great earthquakes in the region. The effects of these earthquakes are enormous, large buildings collapsed leaving many people dead and others wounded.
At the time of this profiling, deaths are estimated at 34 according to the Minister of Health, Dr Jacques MBANDA including: 14 injured during the evacuation of the city, 4 prisoners, 2 asphyxiated, 7 consumed by lava, 3 killed by the smock from lava, 2 babies, and 2 other people died in the collapse of houses due to earthquakes.
Dr Chantal BIKILIMANI reported that for just one night of Saturday-Sunday 22nd-23rd May, they recorded at least 25 cases of premature births at Kyeshero General Hospital.
There are so many cracks on the soil of Goma and several houses have cracks due to earthquakes. More than 3,629 houses, more than 3 health structures and more than 12 primary and secondary schools were destroyed either by lava or by the earthquakes. Entire families made up of mainly women and children are sleeping under the stars without shelter. The airports of Goma and Kavumu (Bukavu) are closed due to earthquakes. According to the President of the Civil Society of the territory of Nyiragongo, Mr MAMBO KAWAYA Jean Claude, several villages have been affected by lava from the volcanic eruption. These are Mujoga, Mugerwa, Kisheke, Rwanguba, Buhama, Kaguri, Bukanda, Kanyanza, Rutagara, Kiguri, Vubiro, Bushwaga, Bugarura, Buhima, Janga, Bushara, Kasenyi, Kabaya, Ngangi 1, Ngangi 2, Rukoko and Byungo.
According to the Minister for Industry who is also the former Governor of North Kivu, His Excellency PALUKU KAHONGYA Julien, since the start of the eruption on May 22nd until May 28th, there were 581 earthquakes. Electricity and water were cut for more than 500,000 people in the city.
This population fled to 3 main directions:
Ø The South direction: Sake- Masisi- Kitsanga- Minova- Bukavu
Ø The East direction: Gisenyi- Changugu- Kigali
Ø The North direction: Rutshuru- Kanyabayonga- Kirumba Lubero- Butembo- Beni- Kisangani
The civil protection service recommended that when an earthquake occurs, the population should protect themselves. For example, if you are in the house, you should stand under a resistant object such as a table, a bed etc., especially in the corner of a room. It is also necessary to protect the head and not to move around the house. If you are outside, you have to stay there, that is, do not rush into the house. If you are in the vehicle, you have to stop driving and follow the radio afterwards on what is recommended to be done by authorities.
3. Conclusion and recommendations
Ø Relocate the provincial institutions from Goma to another city in North Kivu, for example to the city of Beni which is also a very strategic city in eastern DR Congo because it is an opening city to East Africa (Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda), it has an airport that can be modernized to become a major international airport in eastern DRC. It is through this city of Beni that the Trans-African road and the railroad will pass, which will be able to link East Africa to Central and West Africa.
Ø Relocate the population located in the target areas of the volcanoes to the other part of the city of Goma.
Ø Establish Goma as a tourist town in the DRC with movable constructions adapted to the circumstances.
Ø Intervene to repair the damage caused by the volcano, for example, the reconstruction of schools, hospitals, homes of the population and help the victim population to reintegrate into life.
Done in Butembo,
By : Paluku Tahawasima Elias, DRCNDF NTSE
Approved by: KAKULE KATUNGU Therese, DRC NDF Chairperson