Special Report: On DRC Congo’s Environmental Challenges

We bring you some comments on the Environmental challenges in DRC Congo, written by Nshizirungu Hubert, project assistant at World Evangelical Alliance’s Sustainability Center.

Hubert is a part-time student, pursuing a Masters of Sustainability and Risk Management at the Ostafalia University of Applied Science.

Thousands of Congolese workers cram into a cobalt mining pit (Siddharth Kara); image sourced from https://www.independent.co.uk/climate-change/news/phone-electric-vehicle-congo-cobalt-mine-b2277665.html

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has numerous environmental issues because of an intricate relationship of historical, political, economic, and social variables. These challenges threaten not only the country’s great biodiversity but also the financial security and health of its citizens.

One of the most significant concerns is deforestation, mostly caused by agricultural development, logging, and charcoal manufacture. According to the World Bank, the DRC has lost approximately 0.3% of its forest cover each year from 2000 to 2018. This not only decreases carbon storage capacity but also worsens soil degradation and habitat degradation, providing a threat to Indigenous communities that rely on woodland resources for food and cultural activities (World Bank, 2020).

Further, mining activities, notably for minerals such as coltan, gold, and cobalt present major risks to the environment. These activities frequently occur in environmentally sensitive locations, destroying habitats, polluting rivers with toxic substances, and degrading soil. Cobalt extraction, an essential element in batteries for electric vehicles and electronics, has been connected to deforestation and water contamination, exacerbating environmental concerns (Tsuruta et al., 2019).

Insufficient waste management systems exacerbate emissions in cities and natural areas. With increasing urbanization and growing populations, municipal waste production has risen dramatically, exceeding existing disposal systems. In places like Kinshasa, rubbish frequently moves up in rivers or open landfills, poisoning water sources and threatening the health of aquatic ecosystems. The lack of effective waste treatment facilities not only endangers populations’ health, but also leads to the deterioration of air, soil, and water quality (Schipper et al., 2019).

The impact of global warming poses another major challenge for the DRC, resulting in irregular weather patterns, a rising number of catastrophic events, and fluctuations in agricultural production. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns that rising temperatures and changes in rainfall patterns are expected to exacerbate existing environmental stressors, aggravating food poverty and displacing vulnerable communities. (IPCC, 2019).

Addressing these numerous issues entails striking a balance between conservation initiatives and environmentally friendly growth goals. By tackling forest destruction, inappropriate mining activities, waste management problems, and climate change adaptation, the DRC can protect the environment while also promoting socioeconomic development.

Isaiah 24:4-6 reads “The earth dries up and withers, the world languishes and withers, the heavens languish with the earth. The earth is defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes, and broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse consumes the earth; its people must bear their guilt. Therefore earth’s inhabitants are burned up, and very few are left.” Stewardship is emphasized in these words, acknowledging that God owns the earth and that it is our responsibility to care for it with respect. They also caution against the negative effects of disobeying this obligation, such as the devastation of the ecosystem and the coming judgment of God.


1. World Bank. (2020). Congo, Democratic Republic of the – Forest loss (annual %). Retrieved from https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/AG.LND.FRST.ZS?locations=CD

2. Tsuruta, D., Murayama, T., & Nakagoshi, N. (2019). Environmental impacts of mining activities in the Democratic Republic of Congo: A critical review. Sustainability, 11(15), 4195.

3. Schipper, E. L., Delaney, A., D’Almeida, A., & Wilches-Chaux, G. (2019). Urban waste management in the Democratic Republic of Congo: Challenges and opportunities. Journal of Material Cycles and Waste Management, 21(1), 182-189.

4. IPCC. (2019). IPCC Special Report on Climate Change and Land. Retrieved from https://www.ipcc.ch/srccl/.

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