Community History of Inga 1 and Inga 2

According to Mr. Simon Malanda, representative of the displaced communities, the Inga site was inhabited by families from six clans who were forced to leave the site in 1920 under Belgian colonial orders. However, the project did not move forward for more than 30 years. In 1954-55, the Belgian authorities undertook a population survey of the site in order to know if people were still living in, or had returned to, the site.

Mr. Malanda’s uncle, Mr. Ferdinand Sona, was recruited by the project planners to assist in the survey. After the survey was completed, Mr. Ferdinand led a community effort seeking compensation for the displaced communities. In 1958, an agreement with the Belgian colonial authorities was reached for a lump sum of 781,000 Belgian francs to be paid to the displaced communities. This was not paid prior to Congo's independence. Since independence neither the Congolese government nor SNEL, the state utility which oversees Inga, has paid any compensation to the communities. The communities report having never received any financial or in-kind compensation.

When Mr. Sona died, Mr. Malanda took over efforts to have the community claim fulfilled. Several correspondences with SNEL dating back to 1970 show a history of discussion regarding the claim and desire by the communities to ensure that the compensation was paid and that a revenue sharing scheme was put in place.

In 1970, SNEL wrote to Mr. Malanda that the claim would be included in the 1971 budget. SNEL did not fulfill its agreement. The communities twice engaged a lawyer on their behalf, in 1975 and more recently in 2006. In 1975, a lawyer for the communities submitted their claim to the high court in Kinshasa, but SNEL persuaded the lawyer to withdraw the claim and settle out of court. Yet no settlement was made. In 2006, SNEL undertook a one-day investigation of the situation, but no follow up was done to the knowledge of the communities. In 1994, the communities wrote seeking connection to the electricity grid. But to this day, none of the villages, including Manzi located just 3 kilometers from the grid, are electrified. In 2008, Mr. Malanda took the communities’ claim to the Provincial governor and to the national parliament to again seek government intervention and a resolution. Mr. Malunda has also submitted the renewed claim to government officials, SNEL, and MP Ngoma (who is invited to the London meeting).

The six clans were absorbed into 12 pre-existing villages and one new village (Lubwaku, meaning “thrown away”) around the area. In addition, Camp Kinshasa, the former workers’ camp, is now inhabited by a mix of displaced families from the six clans, and by former project workers or children of former workers. This camp is located on land taken by SNEL for the projects, and in 2006, the population, an estimated 9,000 people, were told to abandon the camp. However, after intervention from local and international NGOs, the authorities indefinitely ceased their order to communities.

The population of Camp Kinshasa has grown over the years. However, the residents are not allowed to build on the site, so 3-4 families are cramped together in each house. There are no sanitation facilities, so residents use the boundaries of the camp to relieve themselves. There is only one water pump connected to the camp, but this is connected by a pipe to the SNEL personnel community located nearby, and the water pressure is too low during the day, allowing the community to draw water only at night time. During the day, residents must walk to the nearest stream. Camp Kinshasa is the only area where displaced communities have access to electricity.

The affected communities have organized themselves into two committees. There is a committee of the 6 clans and a second committee which embodies the 6 clans plus the community of former workers now settled at Camp Kinshasa.

The claims of the communities include the following:

  1. Payment for the displacement compensation (the amount would need to be negotiated to consider that the original amount was probably inadequate at the time, inflation, rise in property value, and possibly a penalty for not paying compensation at the original time)
  2. Preferential access to jobs for community members
  3. Electrification of all affected communities (this is complicated by more resettlement)
  4. A benefit sharing mechanism which would provide an annual dividend to the communities
  5. A “modern city” with schools, health care, roads, internet and other infrastructure.

Read the communities' 2008 claim and their archive of correspondence from 1970 to 2006.