Disaster burden weighs to a tune of Rwf1bn annually

The government spends at least Rwf1 billion in meeting the cost of natural disasters annually, the Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs (Midimar) has said.
Police and volunteers look for survivors at a scene of a building collapse in Kacyiru Sector, Kigali, in 2012. File.
Police and volunteers look for survivors at a scene of a building collapse in Kacyiru Sector, Kigali, in 2012. File.

The government spends at least Rwf1 billion in meeting the cost of natural disasters annually, the Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs (Midimar) has said.

In a taking-stocks data, released yesterday, the ministry said disasters claim at least 100 people,  200 get handicapped, 3,000 houses are destroyed,  while 3000 hectares of crops are damaged annually. 

Infrastructures, including roads, schools, electricity are also damaged, costing government Rwf1 billion on reconstruction each year.  

Rwanda is prone to disasters being located in a rift valley, an area with uneven altitude characterised by steep slopes of hills, which is one of the factors facilitating natural and man-made disasters in the country.

The Minister for Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs, Seraphine Mukantabana, released the data while appearing in Parliament to brief lawmakers on the status of disaster management in the country and strategies in place to protect citizens against the risks.

Mukantabana said there is need for more awareness and collective effort to facilitate the process of disaster management.

“Disaster management is a crosscutting issue that needs the participation of all institutions in Rwanda, all citizens and all the countries in the region,” the minister said.

She said government has established a comprehensive early warning system to try to minimise the damages.

The Ministry of Education has also included disaster management studies in secondary school curricula in part to widen awareness, she added.  

“We are much more focusing on preventive and preparedness strategies and methods because we scientifically identified that One Rwandan franc used in prevention saves one hundred Rwandan francs that can be used in recovery after disaster,” said Mukantabana.

Risk zones mapped

According to the minister, the ministry is also working on instructional modules for primary and university institutions.

Jean Baptiste Nsengiyumva, the director of research and public awareness at Midimar, said they have identified and mapped the high-risk zones to help inform relocation efforts.

Reacting to the data, MP Theobard Mporanyi called for a legal framework on disaster management to streamline relocation of people from high-risk zones. 

Mporanyi also expressed concerns over Nyabugogo Road in Nyarugenge District, Kigali, which has previously caused loss of life due to flooding.

MP Adolphe Bazatoha urged authorities to step up the ban on informal mining activities to prevent people dying in mining caves, while MP Sousane Mukayirere said lightning conductors must be installed in public places like schools to prevent lightning.

The MPs also advised the ministry to cooperate with neighbouring countries’ counterparts on regional disaster management issues.

The government indicated last year that 43,000 households were identified as living in risky zones countrywide meant to be relocated. 

 

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