As the nation counts losses from the destruction caused by last weeks torrential rains, including five lives, a committee coordinating movement of people from high risk areas to safer places has received $4 million (about Rwf2.6bn) for social support to effected households.
With this financial support, the National Joint Technical Committee now expects to speed up the process of removing the most vulnerable and needy families from their risky homes and integrate them in their safe villages (Imidugudu).
Part of the funds will also be used to and to rehabilitate degraded areas that have been vacated.
According to Augustin Kampayana, the chairman of Rural Settlement Taskforce in the Ministry of Local Government, the National Fund for Environment in Rwanda (FONERWA) will implement the programme.
“The project indicates the relocation plan, reintegration of the evictees in new life and the safeguard of environment at both their new home and vacated places. Competent institutions are studying technical modalities before releasing the funds,” he said.
Kampayana expects the money to be released by next month.
The project is code-named: “Social Economic Development; Green Model Village Economy.”
Needy families will be supported to acquire land and construct houses. Once in the new residences, basic infrastructure like water harvesting system, biogas, sanitation and greening will be provided.
Younger and energetic people will also be employed by providing labour needed for the rehabilitation of the degraded environment in the high risk zones that are being vacated. Activities will mainly consist of tree planting.
The joint committee chaired by Col. Zac Nsenga, with its secretariat at the Ministry of Defence, is receiving weekly updates on the relocation exercise.
Figures obtained by The Sunday Times show that the committee had previously identified over 47,000 households as living in high risk areas country wide.
About 32,324 families (68 per cent) had been settled as of December 12, a report from all the affected districts shows.
Eastern Province achieved the highest implementation rate with 99 per cent, followed by the Northern Province and Western Province at 87 and 86 per cent respectively.
By the time the report was compiled, Southern Province was yet to resettle over 8,000 households (about 56.9 per cent). Muhanga District, believed to be the most vulnerable, is still home to over 7,000 households in risky surroundings.
“They are mostly poor families who need assistance; we believe the fund we are soon getting will support their evacuation,” Kampayana said.
“Muhanga’s problem is unique. In some areas you find that a whole Cell is supposed to move and it is really challenging. Actually they have made big progress because they are sheltering over 4,600 people,” said Alphonse Munyentwali, the Southern Province governor.
These people include seven hundred households the New Times visited in May this year in Nyabinoni sector. They have to move from Muvumba cell near Nyabarongo to Muyebe.
Francois Uhagaze, Muhanga District Vice Mayor in charge of economic affairs, said that transit houses had been rented for over 180 for extremely vulnerable families as they wait to be resettled.
Uhagaze said of 12 sectors of the district, seven are hilly, where sometimes even the fight against erosion may add on the soil vulnerability.
According to a master plan from the joint committee, around 80 households have already settled at Muyebe at a cost of about Rwf 200m.
Kigali in red
With slums in wetland or on steep slopes, the City of Kigali too still has thousands of people in need of relocation. During rainy season of January-April this year, families lost loved ones and their belongings in areas Gikondo and Gatsata.
Despite casualties, CoK lags behind in relocating vulnerable people. Of the 6,517 households that were identified in high risk zones, only 2,517 (38 per cent) have been resettled, while 4,077 are still exposed.
Kampayana said this was because of the high cost of land and construction.
“In rural areas, a neighbor can give you a plot of 20 square meters free of charge, but in the city, it’s difficult to get the same size of land for Rwf 3m.”
Another challenge was that people must build according to the city master plan, which hikes the cost of building one unit to over Rwf 12m in Kigali.
According to the report, Gasabo district with over 2,600 households in risky areas, has so far resettled only 346 households. Nyarugenge has over 1,700 households in high risk zone.
Kicukiro district accomplished 304 relocations out of 318 households, but apparently people are also still in high risk zones.
Achille Niyigaba, the Executive Secretary of Kicukiro Sector, where over 30 households have to relocate from Gashiha marshland to Rusheshe cell in Masaka sector, said they are doing finishing the houses.
“We are always the best and we cannot afford giving our people unfinished projects”, he said adding all the families will relocate at once by the end of this year.
According to statistics, 75 people died from disasters in risky zone areas in June last year. This year alone, over 60 deaths have been reported. The injured in the same period are around 150.
About 10,000 houses were destroyed by the disasters which included floods and heavy storms.
The country had set September this year as the deadline to move all people out of high risk zones.