The Stream, March 9: Congo River Records Lowest Levels In A Century

The Global Rundown

The national power utility in the Democratic Republic of Congo warned electricity production is at risk after water levels in the Congo River dropped to their lowest level in a century over the past four months. More than 100 people have died in Somalia due to starvation and illnesses related to drought. A trade group representing retailers in Kerala announced plans to join a boycott of foreign sodas over concerns about groundwater supplies. A powerful cyclone in Madagascar displaced thousands of people and caused a wastewater canal to overflow in the capital. Zimbabwe’s justice ministry owes millions of dollars to the national water and power utilities, a report found. A proposal in the Florida Senate could provide funding for major water projects, including a reservoir to curb algal blooms.

“The situation is critical in Somalia. People are dying of hunger and there is no water. This drought is even worse than 2011. We haven’t seen any food aid yet.” –Noor Ibrahim, a refugee in Somalia. The United Nations and aid agencies say urgent action is needed to avert a famine, while Somalia’s government reports that 110 people have already died from starvation and illnesses linked to drought. (CNN)

By The Numbers

50 percent Potential cut in electricity production in the Democratic Republic of Congo later this year as low water levels affect hydropower dams. The Congo River, a major power source, is at its lowest level in more than 100 years, according to the national utility. Reuters

22,000 people Number who were displaced or experienced property damage due to Cyclone Enawo, which triggered landslides and killed at least five people in Madagascar this week. The storm also caused a wastewater canal to overflow in the country’s capital, Antananarivo. Reuters

$3.3 billion Amount the Florida Senate is proposing to issue in bonds to fund water projects, including $1.2 billion for a water storage reservoir near Lake Okeechobee. The project’s proponents say it would help eliminate releases of nutrient-laden water that fuel algal blooms in Florida’s rivers and estuaries. Miami Herald

In context: Learn more about the toxic algal blooms clogging Florida’s estuaries.

Science, Studies, And Reports

A parliamentary report found that Zimbabwe’s justice ministry owes more than $5 million to the national water authority, electricity supply authority, and local authorities. As a result of the delinquent bills, some issued four years ago, the water utility cut service to a number of the ministry’s stations. All Africa ; New Zimbabwe

On The Radar

A trade group representing more than 700,000 retailers in India’s Kerala state plans to implement a boycott next week targeting foreign sodas, such as those produced by Coca-Cola and PepsiCo. The boycott, which joins a similar effort already underway in Tamil Nadu, is in response to concerns about water use amid a drought and shortages. Bloomberg

In context: Learn more about water choke points in Tamil Nadu.