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Red flag raised over degradation of DRC's Katanga ecosystem

Democratic Republic Of Congo

Environment degradation is affecting Katanga’s ecosystem, a Southern Province of Democratic Republic of Congo, experts say.

Water conditions are deplorable from the intense pollution caused by several metal mining companies.

Katapula river, located 30 km from Lubumbashi, flows in the Katanga region. Most of its fish are dead. Their death is linked to severe chemicals released by heavy metal industries in this region. This has also affected the inhabitants.

“We have studied the level of water contamination by chemicals from metal industries and how it has affected those who live nearby. We have found that those who live very close to the mining areas and located less than 3 kilometers from these areas are the most affected. They have very high concentrations of toxic metals in their body,” Celestin Banza, a professor and a toxicologist told AFP.

Around 15 tonnes of mercury are used annually in the DRC’s artisanal gold-mining operations, making it the second largest source of mercury emissions in Africa.

According to the United Nation Environmental Programme, DRC has half of Africa’s forests and water resources, but faces alarming rates of deforestation, species depletion, heavy metal pollution and land degradation from mining.

The country also faces an acute drinking water crisis which has left an estimated 51 million Congolese without access to portable water.

The DRC’s tropical rainforests extend over 1.55 million squire kilometres and account for more than half of Africa’s forest resources – making them a critical global ecosystem “service provider” and a potential source of up to $900 million in annual revenue up to 2030.

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