Situated in Goma town in the Virunga National Park, Mount Nyiragongo is an active stratovolcano with an elevation of 3,470 meters (11,380 ft) in the associated with the Albertine Rift Nyiragongo. The volcano is active in that the last eruption happened 14 years ago but signs of another eruption are showing meaning that another eruption is expected any time.
The eruption that happened claimed lives of many people and property in the democratic republic of Congo in that the flowing lava flattened more than 30 percent of the city of Goma, 20 kilometers away and nearly 150 people died where as 400,000 fled into neighboring Rwanda.
Although many people have taken long to go back to their original areas because of the destruction that took place, some people have gone back and have been surprised by the heavy harvesting they are getting. The farmers in the area had to start from zero since everything was destroyed.
The volcano base has very fertile soils and presently farmers returning to their fields find increased harvests from the rich volcanic soil but there are signs that Nyiragongo will erupt again. Harvest are believed to have risen over the past two harvests in that some farmers after taking care of their families expenses still pocket over 100usd a months. This is quite much money more than doubles the earnings before the eruption. The average per capita monthly income in Congo is nearly $32 a month, according to the World Bank.
It’s now that farmers have started to forget the terrible pain they went through and the heavy losses due to the traumatizing eruptions. This is because of the increased harvest that they are receiving from the chemical makeup of volcanic soil that is conducive for lucrative farming conditions.
From the observatory’s geochemistry and environment department research, it is believed that lava from the eruptions enriches the soil that it initially burned and the volcanic soil includes fertilizing elements such as iron, phosphorus and potassium, he said. In the years after an eruption, a process known as chemical weathering slowly makes lava soil more fertile than ordinary earth.
It is true that initially, no one was coming back because all people were they were too devastated to see their burned fields that broke the hearts of many farmers and all people at large in the area. However, in the last years, visits toward the volcano have shown new villages in areas that were uninhabited before and the increase in lava soil farming may be the result of initial farmers seeing the benefits and spreading information to friends and family.
However, despite of the fertile new volcanic soils, farmers are encouraged and reminded not to get too attached to the newly fertile fields. The Rwanda Red Cross that cared for many fleeing who were affected by the 2002 eruptions has warned local farmers from going back to the area since signs of another eruption are showing currently. This means that eruptions are expected any time at present.
These signs were evidenced by an earth quake that shook previously in the area far beneath the surface that caused rumbling noises near Virunga National Park, where the volcano is located. Since then, a new vent has appeared on the northeastern edge of the crater floor that shoots lava into the air every 30 seconds. Due to the presumptions the Rwanda Red Cross has increased surveillance of the volcano in conjunction with the observatory.
However, despite the warnings by the responsible bodies to the local farmers, most local people are willing to take the risk of another eruption whose signs have been seen already. Farmers are not willing to leave the area because they heavily depend on agricultural crops to support their families and improve their standards of living and more so to compensate for the heavy loss they faced when the last eruption took place.
Farmers are willing to take the risk to the extent that they have committed to keep working on their fields until the volcanic eruption happens. They are motivated by the well growing crops especially the vegetables which grow more than six feet tall in some places with the rich volcanic soil.
In conclusion therefore, virunga volcanic eruptions has both positive impacts a such as the fertile soils which have led to increased harvests by the local farmers but however, these benefits are together with the negative impacts like the continuous eruptions that destroy many people’s crops and lives as well.