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Congo: Torrential rains spark fears of epidemic

Landslide after torrential rain in Congo   -  
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@Africanews via Laudes Martial


The torrential rains that have recently fallen in Brazzaville have had serious consequences. Dozens of residents have lost their homes in landslides caused by the rains.

In the Don Bosco district in the ninth arrondissement in the north of the Congolese capital, the debris lying in this erosion is that of a Pentecostal church swept away in the landslide caused by rainwater.

A few days ago, the faithful were still praying there.

In the vicinity of this place of prayer, several modest, modern dwellings have also been destroyed by the same phenomenon, as Joseph Bango, a 68-year-old retired civil servant, explains.

"It just so happens that there have been three major rains which have caused disarray in the neighbourhood, causing some people to flee. Behind me, some houses have been cleared (as a precaution) and the occupants have left. They can no longer live in the neighbourhood. Right next door there was a lady who had a large house with 14 tenant doors. It's been swallowed up. It's a loss of income for her. She had a house here and on the other side," said a visibly moved Mr Bango.

The other debris at the bottom of the ravine are shrouds taken from coffins in the graves of the old Itatolo cemetery. It's a scene that has left the local population bewildered, with fears of epidemics.

"We're in disarray, it's practically a disaster area. We've been left to our own devices. We don't have an appropriate laboratory to deal with epidemics. If the Hygiene Department could come and disinfect the area for us, that would be great, because there's a fear of epidemics," says Alexandre Oyoua, 73, one of the neighbourhood's leaders.

In desperation, local residents are building dykes from scratch to try and halt the progress of the erosion. It's almost a lost cause.

"It hurts our hearts. We can't be happy because we don't know where to go. These houses are the few we've been able to get. Erosion is progressing and preventing us from living better. In this neighbourhood we have a serious problem with erosion washing away our houses. Many people have deserted the area. Among them are retired people. As we speak, we can't tell where they're going to go, or whether they're going to become tenants again," said Saurelle Leboma and Jules Ferry, two young residents of the Don Bosco neighbourhood.

As soon as the sky darkens, the bodies of those who are still holding out beat faster and faster. Their houses are zero steps away from erosion and have a good chance of being destroyed.

"The rains have been falling relentlessly on Brazzaville since October. The skies are far from being kind again. The landslides that are sweeping away houses and graves in cemeteries are caused by the fragility of the soil and the lack of rainwater drainage systems".