Catholic Entity Says Partnership in Response to DR Congo Volcanic Eruption “a success”

Caritas Nyundo’s distribution of shelter materials following the eruption of Mt Nyiragongo. Credit: Caritas Nyundo Diocese

The partnership in response to the volcanic eruption that occurred in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) Goma town, which borders Rwanda's Rubavu District was successful, officials of the overseas development agency of the Catholic Bishops of Ireland, Trócaire, have said.

In a Wednesday, February 23 report, Trócaire officials attribute the successful response to last year’s volcanic eruption that affected a section of Rwandans to the training the Catholic entity had given to the locals in partnership with the country’s Nyundo Caritas.

“Despite the challenges of implementing a humanitarian response during COVID-19 restrictions, the partnership approach to the response to the volcanic eruption was a success. The cooperation and coordination between local partners and local authorities was key to the Start Fund impact,” Trocaire leadership says.

The volcanic eruption that occurred a few miles from the city of Goma in DRC on the border with Rwanda displaced over 8,000 people who sought refuge in Rwanda’s Rubavu district where thousands had equally been displaced.

According to Trócaire, families were left homeless in four sectors of Rubavu District with roads, schools, water systems, and health centers affected. “Homes, crops, and food stores were destroyed, making food security an immediate and urgent concern,” officials of the Catholic agency say.


With emergency funds provided by Trócaire, Caritas Nyundo was empowered and responded quickly to the effects of the volcano by transporting the victims to hospitals, health centers and transit camps.

In the February 23 report, Trócaire leadership says Caritas Nyundo utilized the good relationship with local communities to identify those who were in dire need of help and to ensure that order was maintained at humanitarian distribution sites.

“We devised a community needs-based response because we were close to the affected communities, both Congolese and local, and it was easy for us to understand their needs,” the Director of Caritas Nyundo, Fr. Jean Paul, has been quoted as saying. 

Trócaire also implemented startup funds in partnership with Oxfam, Tear Fund, and other local partners to boost shelter, cash assistance, and protection that focused on gender violence.

“More than 2,000 people were identified as being in need through local authority lists, but the project could only support 970 people,” Trócaire officials say, and add, “500 were selected in Rubavu and 470 in Rugerero. An additional 300 people were then selected for phone distribution.”

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Officials of Caritas Nyundo in Rubavu District lauds Trócaire saying the experience they had after working together for two years was essential in the response to the emergency.

The advisor to the Mayor of Rubavu District, Martin Habimana, acknowledges the role played by Caritas and says that it has established itself as a first priority in case of an emergency in the district.

“Caritas has been our right hand in the whole coordination process in our response to the volcano eruption,” Mr. Habimana says, and adds, “Working with Caritas Nyundo helped the district to respond faster because we used their resources like vehicles, food and non-food items, which were available immediately after the eruption occurred.”

Caritas Nyundo, a member of the Joint Action District Forum, worked with the district authority and the Ministry in Charge of Emergency Management (MINEMA), and contributed up-to-date information about the number of people affected and those who were not yet reached with support.

The leadership of the overseas agency believes that the local people should play a leading role in the development processes in their communities.


“In our new Strategic Plan (2021-2025), we have committed to a ‘step change’ in our approach to partnership, which involves shifting power more profoundly to our local and national partners in the countries where we work,” Trócaire officials say in the February 23 report.

Silas Mwale Isenjia is a Kenyan journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communication from Moi University in Kenya. Silas has vast experience in the Media production industry. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.