Three killed, over 800 houses destroyed in weekend downpour

Three people were killed and hundreds of housing units across the country destroyed in Saturday’s downpour, officials have said. Philippe Habinshuti, the director of disaster response and recovery at the Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs (MIDMAR), told The New Times that the heavy rains were more disastrous in Kigali City.
Property destroyed in Nyarugenge District. / Courtesy
Property destroyed in Nyarugenge District. / Courtesy

Three people were killed and hundreds of housing units across the country destroyed in Saturday’s downpour, officials have said.

Philippe Habinshuti, the director of disaster response and recovery at the Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs (MIDMAR), told The New Times that the heavy rains were more disastrous in Kigali City.

At least 702 houses were destroyed in Nyarugenge District, 72 in Kicukiro District, and 29 in Kamonyi District, according to a preliminary report by MIDMAR.

Habinshuti said 10 schools were damaged in Nyarugenge, while 18 hectares of crops were destroyed in various areas.

He said relief intervention is expected to start today.

Rwanda Energy Group also reported that the heavy rain triggered power blackouts in various parts of the country because some electrical lines were affected.

Meanwhile, reports from Kamonyi indicate that apart from several houses, maize and banana plantations were also damaged in the district.

Habinshuti said the affected people will get primary support.

“We will assist them with food and non-food items such as bed kits, kitchen kits, and hygienic kits and then start a reconstruction plan. This fiscal year, we have planned for Rwf300 million for such relief interventions in case of disasters,” he said.

Diane Tuyisenge, a resident of Gitega Sector of Nyarugenge District, said: “We experienced power blackout at around 9pm as it started to rain. Wind was shaking houses. Water penetrated my house and soon roofs were flying from houses, some fell over my house. We had to seek shelter from our own homes for fear that the houses would cave in. We spent many hours in panic fearing for the worst.”

Officials said they would screen beneficiaries to ensure relief support goes to the most vulnerable.

Making city resilient to disasters

Officials say they are committed to making urban housing resilient to disasters such as flooding, wind and landslides.

“To get sustainable solution in the city, we need progressive improvement of infrastructure in disaster prone areas such Nyarugenge,” Habinshuti said.

Last year, researchers from the Institute of Policy Analysis and Research (IPAR) and Research and Adelphi (a German institute), in collaboration with MIDMAR, revealed that small businesses in Kigali were being affected by recurrent flooding and experienced annual losses estimated at Rwf178.2 million in damages caused by floods.

City officials told The New Times recently that, by 2040, unplanned settlement will have become history.

Vedaste Nsabimana, the vice mayor in charge of finance and economic development, said unplanned settlement will be upgraded in three phases namely by 2017, by 2025 and by 2040, while Nyakabanda, Rwezamenyo and Kimisagara upgrades will start this year until 2025.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

 

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