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The changing water cycle: Freshwater in the Congo

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Abstract Climate change in Africa is manifesting itself in the distribution and quantities of freshwater which are becoming serious security issues. Central Africa, particularly the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), with its abundant water, is caught in the middle of strategies to curb future effects of droughts, water scarcity and flooding across Africa. This article reviewed the current status of water and related biodiversity in DRC using a political economy, biological data and available social knowledge. Freshwaters hold the potentials to significantly contribute to the economy of DRC. However, fish stocks in some stretches of the Congo River are fished at intensities that exceed their productivity potential; water depths are decreasing in some others. Sources of the freshwaters of the Congo Basin cross borders of many countries but proper transboundary management plans to support cross‐border sustainable management of freshwaters are lacking. Stakeholders do not own freshwater sustainable management plans; growing populations and the drying up of large portions of Africa make that freshwater of the Congo, rather than being a uniting factor of the region, instead a security threat that Congo River Basin countries need to care about immediately. Caution should prevail in ways in which the freshwaters of the Congo Basin are exploited. Particularly, lack of in‐depth ecological knowledge about the biology and the mechanics of the Congo Basin's freshwaters call for careful scrutiny of the idea to export the freshwaters of Congo to refill the Lake Chad Basin as suggested by some politicians, since this could lead to an unprecedented ecological cataclysm. This article is categorized under: Water and Life > Conservation, Management, and Awareness Science of Water > Water Extremes Engineering Water > Planning Water
The map of the Congo Basin © CICOS
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Number of fish species and endemism rates for selected aquatic habitats in the DRC. Sources: Groombridge (), Thieme et al. (), Kamdem et al. (), and Plumptre et al. ()
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Production potential and effective catch of fish by aquatic habitats of Congo. Figure drawn using published data from Harrison et al. (), Vakily (), Proude (), Corsi (, ), DAFECN (), and FAO ()
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Contribution of fisheries to the DRC economy. Sources: INS () and FAO ()
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Monthly and annual costs of water provided by the Congo River to the population of the DRC. Sources: REGIDESO/Agence Congolese de Presse (ACP, )
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Engineering Water > Planning Water
Science of Water > Water Extremes
Water and Life > Conservation, Management, and Awareness

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