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World Health Organization Publication : Year 2002, A88434 - in English: Human Health and Vulnerability in the Nyiragongo Volcano Crisis Democratic Republic of Congo 2002

By Peter J. Baxter

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Book Id: WPLBN0000169148
Format Type: PDF eBook
File Size: 1.6 MB
Reproduction Date: 2005

Title: World Health Organization Publication : Year 2002, A88434 - in English: Human Health and Vulnerability in the Nyiragongo Volcano Crisis Democratic Republic of Congo 2002  
Author: Peter J. Baxter
Volume:
Language: English
Subject: Health., Public health, Wellness programs
Collections: Medical Library Collection, World Health Collection
Historic
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Publisher: World Health Organization

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Baxter, P. J. (n.d.). World Health Organization Publication : Year 2002, A88434 - in English. Retrieved from http://cn.ebooklibrary.org/


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Medical Reference Publication

Excerpt
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY We have undertaken a vulnerability assessment of the Nyiragongo volcano crisis at Goma for the World Health Organisation (WHO), based on an analysis of the impact of the eruption on January 17/18, 2002. According to volcanologists, this eruption was triggered by tectonic spreading of the Kivu rift causing the ground to fracture and allow lava to flow from ground fissures out of the crater lava lake and possibly from a deeper conduit nearer Goma. At the time of writing, scientists are concerned that the continuing high level of seismic activity indicates that the tectonic rifting may be gradually continuing. Scientists agree that volcano monitoring and contingency planning are essential for forecasting and responding to future trends. The relatively small loss of life in the January 2002 eruption (less than 100 deaths in a population of 500,000) was remarkable, and psychological stress was reportedly the main health consequence in the aftermath of the eruption. A cholera outbreak was prevented by the rapid intervention of NGO’s and other agencies to provide chlorinated drinking water from Lake Kivu. This report is a contribution for health sector preparedness and the involvement of the health sector in the on-going risk management of this crisis. Some important findings on the vulnerability of the population have emerged which relate to the eruption occurring in a region already affected by a complex humanitarian emergency and these should be considered in emergency planning and preparedness. 1. Volcanic hazard risks, scientific forecasts and warnings. According to scientists, the two main hazards of immediate concern in a future eruption of Nyiragongo are: i.) a lava eruption in Goma from fissures located within 1-2 km of the lake shore leading to a major phreato-magmatic explosion, and ii.) a lava eruption in Lake Kivu that disturbs the carbon dioxide and methane stored in the lake at depth, leading to the release of an asphyxiating gas cloud that could disperse over a wide area. Either of these events could lead to catastrophic loss of life. Warning of magma rising beneath Goma or Lake Kivu should be feasible, using a telemeter seismic monitoring network. However, the political and humanitarian situation makes it unlikely that the population will heed warnings of an impending eruption and be prepared to evacuate part or whole of Goma as a precautionary measure. A gas release from Lake Kivu would be most likely localised around the location of a lava emission along the main fissure line from the summit crater to the lake, in other words, near Goma. The evacuation of Goma would therefore also reduce the loss of life expected in a gas release from Lake Kivu. 2. Cholera risk in Goma. The devastating cholera outbreak in 1994 in Rwandan refugees in Goma and the neighbouring camp areas was due to the total reliance of the population on Lake Kivu as the only source of drinking water, as the area is built upon the hard rock of old, porous lava flows (there are no wells or rivers). This reliance is unchanged today and the prevention of enteric disease outbreaks in a future eruption has to be a leading priority for the health sector, relief agencies and NGO’s. The risk of an epidemic is greatest with an evacuation of Goma, or a return to Goma before its shattered

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