In November 2017, five thousand victims of flooding in the town of Impfondo were left unaided as the Congolese government lacked the resources needed to detect the disaster. Consequently, the World Food Programme, a crucial supplier of relief aid, did not receive a request for response for three full weeks. This lack of access to information is typical for the country, which has been unable to repair river and rainfall gauges destroyed in the 90s.
In 2018, Cloud to Street bolstered the country in creating one of the most state of the art flood monitoring systems in the world, all set up remotely and designed to alert the government and the UN of an emergency within three days—not three weeks. In close collaboration with local officials, local users, and relevant government agencies, Cloud to Street designed and implemented a system to create automated flood and precipitation maps, locally optimizing global flood detection algorithms to generate satellite-based flood analysis and reports. A near real-time online dashboard and a WhatsApp group of local stakeholders provided direct communication and connected flood information with users on the ground.
The system was put to the test when 16,000 asylum seekers who had crossed the border to the Republic of the Congo from the Democratic Republic of Congo, sought refuge along the flood-prone banks of the Congo River. Days after the refugees arrived, Cloud to Street received a message from a UN official concerned that the new refugees risked facing catastrophic flooding, an event that held the potential for a humanitarian disaster.
Within 2 days, Cloud to Street remotely analyzed the history of flooding in the area and determined that 7,000 of the refugees — living in the largest of the refugee camps, Makomptipoko — were at the highest risk of flooding. Furthermore, Cloud to Street used high resolution Planet imagery to monitor any present day flooding in the camps and found that one of the camps was already beginning to flood. Armed with our analysis information, the national government supported the relocation of the refugees living in Makomptipoko to lower risk sites, a decision that kept countless people safe.
16,000 refugees at risk identified
7,000 refugees' relocation supported
See photos from Cloud to Street's work in the Republic of Congo below.
The Cloud to Street dashboard... provided the infrastructure to detect and respond more quickly to floods that previously did not exist.
- Director of Prevention and Risk Reduction to Catastrophe, Republic of the Congo
Cloud to Street would have helped us to react in a number of days to major flood situations, like the one in Impfondo in 2017, instead of a number of weeks.
-Chief of Staff, Ministry of Social Affairs, Republic of the Congo
The Cloud to Street dashboard and WhatsApp group provided the infrastructure to detect and respond more quickly to floods that previously did not exist.
- Director of Prevention and Risk Reduction to Catastrophe, Ministry of Social Affairs, Republic of the Congo
Cloud to Street’s service provides the evidence and models that scientifically can help us make better decisions in our work, especially in work on refugee or asylum seeker situations.
- Chief of Staff, Ministry of Social Affairs, Republic of the Congo