In early August, a significant spill of toxic runoff from Angolan diamond mines into rivers feed into the DRC’s waterways.
The spill turned hundreds of kilometres of the Congo River’s tributaries a deep shade of red and is reported to have killed at least 12 people in the DRC.
The spill originated at the Catoca diamond mine in Angola’s Lunda Sul province.Angola and Russia are the shareholders of Lunda Sul province.
What is a Catastrophe?
Catastrophe is some unusual event in the environment that damages things in a certain way that cannot be changed further. In a word, it’s a “Disaster”—for example, Japan’s Earthquake of 2011.
Why does a Catastrophe happen?
Scientists say that a “Catastrophe” includes all the environmental disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, and droughts, among others.
As these massively destructive and costly events become more frequent, scientific evidence figures that the leading cause of a “Catastrophe” event is “Climate Change”.
What happens when an environmental catastrophe occurs in an isolated area?
During the early August, Tshikapa and Kasai rivers had turned into brownish-red all of a sudden, and there was nothing at first to predict.
There were dead fishes all over those rivers, floating above the surface. Villages after villages got sick with Diarrhoea.
Because all of them use those rivers’ water to survive, and those very rivers were destroying them.
An “Unprecedented Environmental and Human Disaster,” said one of the teachers of the University of Kinshasa, the university’s Congo Basin Water Resources Research Center (CRREBaC) told the pollution was likely occurred by the discharge from industrial diamond mines in Lunda Norte and Lunda Sul provinces in northern Angola.
On the other side, the provincial authorities of Angola reported similar signs of a spill, including mass fish deaths and discoloured water.
In a press conference on Sept. 2, the DRC’s minister of environment and sustainable development, Eve Bazaiba, said that at least 12 people had died and thousands more had been sickened.
After one and half months, some definitive reports have appeared: what caused the pollution and who are highly responsible for this.
The brown-red colour of those rivers is not changed yet. The main question here is, “Is it going to lead to some long-term effects? “Are the rivers useful to us now? And if not, then when will be?”
There are many questions, but among all of these, one question is fundamental to the African people now, and that is if they can’t use those rivers for their lives anymore, then where will they go?
There’s and what the long-term impacts for communities and ecosystems affected by it will be.
Raphaël Tshimanga, a scientist with CRREBaC, says he’s baffled by the lack of international attention and slow regional response so far.
“It’s a serious catastrophe,” he told Mongabay. “The river was red for more than a month, and this is a big river, at places its width is more than a kilometre.”
According to satellite data analysed by Visio Terra in France, the discharge source was the Catoca diamond mine in Angola, which began leaking red material from its tailings pool into the Tshikapa River between July 20 and 25.
Images track a reddish pollution front snaking its way downstream over the following weeks, eventually reaching the Kasai River in the DRC.