Arrival in Mbandaka – Report from Alasdair Meldrum

After a short (1.5hr) flight from Kinshasa we arrived safely in Mbandaka. We were taken immediately to our hotel the Nina River Hotel. The location of the hotel was stunning right on the banks of the Congo. Unfortunately most of the other aspects of the hotel were very poor – staff were generally very unwelcoming, rooms required some basic maintenance, food was good if you liked fish but otherwise very limited and many of the drinks on offer were very old. It is sad as with a bit of effort it could be a stunning hotel located in a stunning location.

Initial impression of Mbandaka was that it is very similar to Kisangani with a similar feel to it with few vehicles and more motor boats and bikes. In terms of the location it is absolutely beautiful sitting on the banks of the river Congo with the constant boat traffic moving up and down the river. In terms of public health and waste management the same issues arise –

  • Blocked drainage channels – we had the privilege of visiting some of the areas our staff had already cleared and they are making good progress.
  • Lack of waste management collection – waste is usually swept into piles and either burnt, brushed into a drainage ditch or left in place. It was clear from our inspection that a large percentage of the waste was organic and could be readily composted.
  • Every morning at our hotel we were welcomed to breakfast by the noise of the animals being slaughtered on the banks of the Congo. Carcasses were then carried up to the market where the meat was butchered and by the end of the day food was being cooked on the same tables. Basic standards for abattoirs and markets are required to ensure public health.