Taganyika: Snail Hunting, Starvation And Continued Violence

Earlier this month, the International Committee of the Red Cross reported on the critical state of Tanganyika, a region located in the South East of the Congo. Since peace was destroyed in 2016, violence has seen no end within this region. As a result, the currency has collapsed, as has the farming industry alongside all other economic attributes. The native people in a village called Mukambe are living more than a 5-hour multi-modal journey away from any other people or medical attention, starving. In this village, families have no crops to harvest and lack a nutritional or reliable food supply. In an attempt to keep the children fed, parents are left scavenging for snails along the river bed. There is nothing to grow, no money to use and no goods to trade, leaving the people internally displaced in a devastating level of poverty, struggling to make do.

“Communal violence in the province of Tanganyika displaced more than 650,000 people between December 2016 and February 2017. No one knows how many people have been injured, wounded or killed in the violence, not to mention the number of villages burnt down and crops destroyed,” according to the ICRC’s recent article. Despite extensive efforts from the government, there has been no success in regaining peace across the region.

These communities are riddled with malnutrition, displacement and death. However, these are meant to be the lucky ones, surviving the States hostilities thus far, yet they suffer the most. Unfortunately, the people are losing hope, not only in Mukambe, but also in Kasai. In these villages, the children no longer laugh or play, and the adults no longer farm or harvest crops. There is no stable food supply, but there is also no water supply. The people drink from puddles after the rain or from the river. They cannot afford soap to wash or new clothes, little own medical attention.

Mukambe resident Rogers explains that “If you don’t have any money for the appointment, they ask for a chicken as payment instead, but even that is too much. So we use roots of plants that grow in the forest as medicine.” While this is embracing a more natural, native style of health and medication, it is leaving the Mukambe people open to further issues. Roots can often be a solution to some forms of medical issues; however, the mental and nutritional health is being left unaddressed within the community. In conjunction to this, the community has come to only exist within itself, and due to their lack of presence at the medical centre, there is no record of the deaths, injuries or hardships within the village. This further contributes to the lack of assistance the people are faced with.

Why aren’t the NGOs doing anything? Due to the remote locations and mass disruption this violence has caused, there are various obstacles debilitating opportunity to help. The Congo continues to be an extremely unstable region, where safety cannot be guaranteed. Furthermore, these few populated villages are difficult to access, often requiring days to reach, without then attempting to deliver care packaged or shipments there. Fortunately, in the Kasai region, the conditions are improving, with people slowly repopulating the area. However, even in these busier areas, malnutrition is preventing any productivity. “We are hungry because there’s not enough food. We’re too weak even to pick up a hoe,” says Emmanuel, chief of Kamenga.

The question remains: how can the people fight to restore safety, security and productivity in a State that cannot fuel the necessary labor? In many countries, there is no easy way to deliver suppliers or medical attention to those in need. These projects require funds that don’t exist, to treat people who have no voice and who have lost hope. However, what about new technologies? With the rise of drone delivery, are we moving towards an age where starvation and lack of crops could be solved through an alternate mode of contact? If drones were to be altered and approved to be utilised in populous regions in need, could they become beacons of hope; to deliver emergency supplies and seed to grow crops?


Emy-Lee Rogers
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