News / Africa

Oxfam: Power, Water Shortages in Goma

Congolese flee the eastern Congolese town of Sake, 27km west of Goma, Friday November 23, 2012.
Congolese flee the eastern Congolese town of Sake, 27km west of Goma, Friday November 23, 2012.
Joe DeCapua
As fighting continues in the eastern DRC between government forces and M23 rebels, the humanitarian crisis is growing worse. Oxfam says it’s stepping up efforts to help about 80,000 people in and around Goma, the capital of North Kivu Province.


M23 rebels took over Goma last week, disrupting humanitarian operations not only in the provincial capital, but in surrounding camps for the displaced.

Oxfam’s Christina Corbett is in Goma, where thousands of people have sought shelter in schools, churches and elsewhere. She said, “People are trying to carry on with a normal life. They’re trying to go about their daily business. Most of the shops are open. Banks are still closed, but certainly the smaller shops are all open and people are carrying on as usual, but there is certainly a feeling that they don’t know what’s going to happen next.”

There are electricity and water shortages in Goma.

“Goma is very poorly resourced to deal with the high concentrated numbers of IDPs that have come here and in the surrounding areas as well. Obviously, without enough clean water, sanitation becomes an issue, and disease outbreaks are a huge concern for us,” she said.

Oxfam specializes in providing clean water and sanitation.
It’s providing assistance at camps for IDPs, or internally displaced persons, including the Lac Vert Camp on the edge of Goma, and the Mugunga 1 camp. Construction of water systems is also expected to begin soon at a new camp at Bulengo.

Corbett said, “We’re working in two of the largest IDP camps to the west of Goma. In one of them we’re trucking in fresh water, because at the moment there is no water infrastructure there. In the other camp we were previously working there. We already had in place a water infrastructure system, which we’re now rapidly having to expand. We also are building latrines in those camps and we’re building latrines in another site in town.”

About 40 latrines have been constructed at the Don Bosco Catholic center in Goma.

“There are about 8,000 people there. They have absolutely nothing. Inside the compound, there are several buildings and people have hung plastic sheets from the sides of the buildings. And they’re just living around the edges of the buildings,” said Corbett.

Many are making their beds on Goma’s hard volcanic rock terrain.

Corbett said what’s happening in Goma is part of the bigger conflict in North Kivu Province, which is home to many armed groups. They’ve attacked and looted villages and killed and raped civilians – women, children and men.

“There is fighting in other parts of North Kivu. We know there’s fighting in Masisi. We know people are being displaced there because of the insecurity. We don’t have access, and that’s also a huge concern for us, because all eyes are on Goma at the moment. It was such a strategic prize and it’s a very important place; and it marks the latest development in the conflict. But there’s also a lot happening in other places,” she said.

The Oxfam spokesperson added that many of the displaced have lost all sense of home. She says they’re ready to move at a moment’s notice to find a new safe place.

  • Shops closed in Sake a day after M23 rebels took control of the town following overnight battles with the Congolese army, DRC, November 23, 2012. (G. Joselow/VOA)
  • Fighting has displaced tens of thousands of people from the town of Sake, west of Goma, DRC, November 23, 2011. (G. Joselow/VOA)
  • With IDP camps filling up since the rebellion in eastern Congo began in April, newly displaced people are sleeping in churches until they can find a place to settle, DRC, November 23, 2012. (G. Joselow/VOA)
  • Displaced people from the town of Sake gather at the Mugunga camp on the road to Goma, DRC, November 23, 2012. (G. Joselow.VOA)
  • Families flee fighting between the Congolese army and M23 rebels in the town of Sake, DRC, November 23, 2012. G. Joselow/VOA)

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs