The government has outlined plans that will facilitate the growth of intermediary cities in a bid to reduce the rate at which slums are being created around the City of Kigali.
Prime Minister Pierre Damien Habumuremyi said government will adopt a strategy that will further stimulate economic activities in Huye, Rubavu, Nyagatare, Rwamagana, Rusizi and Musanze cities in order to curb rural-urban migration.
Habumuremyi was speaking, yesterday, in Kigali during the closing of the Second International Tripartite Conference of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) on sustainable urbanisation.
The premier said developing secondary cities will create employment opportunities for the youth who are always migrating to Kigali in search of jobs and end up in slums.
“We have already started developing these cities. We, therefore, believe that this will not only reduce on rural urban migration but will also mitigate the issues of unemployment,” Habumuremyi said.
“The government remains committed to improving the livelihood of its people through creation of better sanitation services, access to clean water and proper shelter, among others.”
Prof. Silas Lwakabamba, the minister for infrastructure, said government will intensify the strategy of training people in technical and vocationalskills to allow them take part in the construction of more than 35,000 housing units needed per year towards urbanisation.
The government, he added, has embarked on identification of the right raw construction materials and right technology which will facilitate speedy construction of the needed housing units.
“The other strategy is to empower the local people so that they can construct these units themselves instead of waiting for government or the private sector.”
He said equipping more people with life skills to help them create employment will ultimately help them afford decent accommodation.
A Ministry of Infrastructure study, conducted in 2008, revealed that the country needed more than 350,000 houses in the next 10 years.
However, Prof. Lwakabamba said government is looking for means of how it can be able to provide at least 35,000 housing units per year.
“This is a challenge that requires every body’s involvement including our international partners,” the minister said.
Rwanda’s rural urban migration rate stands at 4.8 per cent, higher than the world’s rural-urban migration which stands at 1.9 per cent.
Louis Michel, the head of European Union in the country, said involving people helps eradicate slums much faster than when work is left to governments.
“The EU remains committed to its core objective of improving the living conditions of slum dwellers by proving basics, including water with over 14 million Euros to be dispatched next year. We believe Rwanda will be among the beneficiaries of this project,” Michel said.
According to Raymond Michel Dominique, the ACP secretary-general, the participatory slum upgrading, launched in 2008, seeks to improve the lives of 100 million slum dwellers by the year 2020.
Dr Aisa Kirabo Kacyira, the UN Habitat deputy executive director, said the issue of sustainable urbanisation has come to the forefront of international development.
“We need to apply cross sectoral approaches that will allow us to understand dynamic interactions to address the urban challenges as a whole,” Kirabo said.
Some 34 countries and 150 cities across Africa and the Caribbean and Pacific states are participating in the programme.