Evaluating the Impact of Mining Effluent on Water Quality and Arable Soil along the Musoshi River

Musoshi, Democratic Republic of Congo

Featured image for the project, Evaluating the Impact of Mining Effluent on Water Quality and Arable Soil along the Musoshi River

Description

Musoshi is a community in Kipushi Territory, South of the City of Lubumbashi.  It is a mining town along the border with Zambia in the mineral rich province of Haut Katanga, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Musoshi was developed around an official mine known as Sodimico that was run by Japanese and Congolese cooperation in the time of President Mobutu.  Since the fall of Mobutu’s regime 20 years ago, the activities of the mine have largely diminished. The mine was mothballed and flooded in the 1990s but was reopened in 2007. In 2009, during the Title Review process ordered by the Congolese Government, it was decided that the mine would be transferred to the state owned company Sodimico. Today, the mine is still exploited but below capacity. The town, schools, health center, and local incomplete hydropower dam were all constructed by the mining company. The town grew quickly as miners received incentives to have large families. The younger generation went to live outside the estate all around the banks of Musoshi River.

After mining activities ended, a lot of people have had to turn to small-scale agriculture and business (mostly illegal mining). People mostly cultivate maize, sweet potatoes, and cassava for subsistence and small income generation. Yields of maize have been lower because of the changing climate which brings longer dry periods between the rainy seasons, hence the growing need to import maize from Zambia. However because of drought, Zambia itself is facing shortages so oftentimes there is no maize available for importation.

Mining operations were unregulated – mineral treatment water was dumped in the river and nearby forest – so it is thought that this has led to polluted wastewater contaminating soil and potentially groundwater. The channel that used to bring the wastewater to Musoshi River has not been properly maintained and so polluted water has often flooded the land where the community conducts agricultural activities – resulting in burned unproductive soil for agriculture and massive deforestation in the high savannah ecosystem that normally has rich vegetation.

About the Community

Deogratias Kayumba, is the Program Director of nonprofit Human Care and Community Development in the World (HCCDW) based in the area. He will serve as community lead along with his colleague, Freddy Kalasa, Director of Research and Community Outreach.

Project Team

Community Leads

Deogratias Kayumba is Founder and Program Director for Human Care and Community Development in the World (HCCDW). He works with communities in extension programs related to environment and sustainable agriculture for smallholder farmers. Deogratias obtained a B.Sc in Agriculture at University of Lubumbashi, a B.Ed. Honours at the University of Cape Town, and a Postgraduate Certificate in Community Leadership at George Mason University. His main goal is to engage the general public, private sector organizations, policy makers and local government in sustainable use of natural resources in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

 

Freddy Kalasa is Co-Founder of HCCDW and works as the Research and Community Outreach Director. He trains, guides and coaches people from diverse communities and backgrounds to develop their capacity to volunteer and work in community development and widen their field of interests. Freddy Obtained his B.Sc in Agriculture at the University of Lubumbashi and Diploma in Information Technology from a professional.

Scientist Wanted

Deogratias and Freddy seek scientific partner(s) to support Musoshi in organizing a comprehensive environmental review collating and describing pollution levels in the soil and water including point sources of pollution. This environmental review will  entail sampling, remote sensing, and land use suitability mapping. The environmental review should help health experts to determine health impacts  of the pollution on the local communities.

 

Timeline and Outcomes

Ideally, this project should commence sometime between 1 March and 15 June 2019 while the community leader is present in the community to ensure a seamless introduction to the community.

Community leads anticipate that the project should take 6 to 12 months. However, circumstances may change in the coming months with new authorities changing policies.

Scientific partner(s) will be asked to produce the following as part of the environmental review:

  • A report, including data visualizations, to inform the community of potential soil or water contamination risks from mining effluent, specifically for residents that live in the informal, agricultural-based, part of the town.
  • A presentation to local and/or provincial government with recommendations for remediation policy.
  • Develop a citizen science element: Train the farmers, community members, and students to do the sampling and potentially surveys.

Through workshops, HCCDW anticipates that this project will help residents and decision-makers farm arable land, guidance on using and managing water resources, and informing soil remediation strategies.

HCCDW team will be prepared get permissions from various local and regional authorities whenever required.

 

Desired skills and expertise

  • Expertise or experience in one or more of the following areas: hydrology, remote sensing (focuses on land use, land use changes, land use mapping);  environmental sciences (expertise in soil and water sampling analyses)
  • Experience and/or desire to participate in community education, outreach, citizen science and engagement
  • Environmental scientist needs to be local and experienced/interested in developing local capacity in environmental sciences through trainings and/or citizen science
  • Other experts can work remotely
  • Swahili and/or French language skills [While the community leader and team speak English and may assist with work on the on the ground, French and or Swahili may be needed for interaction with community members.]
  • [For on-the-ground scientific partner(s)] An ability to work in challenging environments.
  • Competent, open to new ideas, and patient
  • Ability to connect with the community in-person or remotely.