KINSHASA, 19 Jan 2006 (IRIN) - Flooding caused by recent heavy rains in Kalemie Territory in Congo's Katanga Province could cause severe food shortages, a local employee of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has said.
Kasongo Banga, the FAO officer in charge of food security in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, said some 720 people faced shortages as a result of the rain-fed floods that started in early January.
Banga added that at least 30 ha of cassava and groundnut fields were inundated with floodwater from the tributaries of the Rugumba River.
Kalemie was already a food-insecure area due to a five-year civil war that ended in 2003 as well as ongoing sporadic fighting between the Mayi-Mayi militiamen and the Congolese army. Presently, there are about 120,000 displaced villagers fleeing this fighting in the northern part of the province.
"Most of the displaced are concentrated in Kalemie," Banga said.
Another reason for the food insecurity in these areas is the lack of fishing equipment for fishermen around Lake Tanganyika, which has resulted in the lack of fish in local markets.
"People are now reduced to one square meal a day, rather than the usual three, and NGOs have opened many centres to care for badly malnourished children," he added.
The lakeside port town of Kalemie is also threatened by the accumulation of sand from Lake Tanganyika, following massive waves caused by strong winds.