"A large rock destroyed the house of my neighbours"

Beu, DR Congo
September 2015

Assignment for Oxfam Novib

Until a few years ago, a dozen houses stood at the foot of a hill in Beu, outside the city of Beni. Now only with weeds overgrown plateaus remember of the neighbourhood. The hill, consisting mainly of sand and rock formations, was a great danger to residents. "A large rock destroyed the house of my neighbour during heavy rainfall. After this I was terrified it would also happen to us," says Kambale Bulambo, a father of five.

In 2012, Multi-Actions d’Assistance aux Marginalisés et Sinistrés (MAAMS), a local partner organisation of Oxfam Novib, commissioned a seismologist to examine the risks of the location for the residents. He concluded they needed to be evacuated as soon as possible. A total of 248 households were at risk, but MAAMS only had enough funding to relocate 81 of them. After consultation with the local authorities, they provided residents with a plot of land where they could build a new house.

Kambale Lulambo and his family were one of the fortunate ones to move. "Where we live now, there is no danger and our new house is much stringer."

But the new location offers its own problems. “When it gets dark, we cannot walk past the prison without soldiers harassing us. And the road we use to transport our harvest is in a poor condition.” His wife adds: "The city is further away and this is a problem for pregnant women when they need to go to the hospital to give birth. We need a clinic here. And the school also needs a revamp!" 

Not everybody accepted the offer to move to the new location. Although their plot at the foot of the hill is not ideal, the Kamabu family ultimately decided not to leave. "We have been living here since 2002,” one of the sons saus. “The water coming down the hill is a problem, but I don’t believe it is as dangerous as they say it is. The offer of MAAMS was really good, but the other place is too remote. And besides, I grew up here. This is my home."

 

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