Rubavu district has designated three sites, totaling 16 hectares, for the construction of model villages to accommodate families affected by the recent flooding of River Sebeya. Addressing concerns about land ownership, authorities in Rubavu have assured residents that the land will remain their property. However, they emphasized that it should only be used for agricultural and environmental conservation activities. ALSO READ: Govt to close over 90 temporary accommodation sites Relocating and rehousing individuals displaced by the River Sebeya flooding and those residing in high-risk areas is the next step, as the government closes temporary accommodation facilities. Deogratias Nzabonimba, the acting mayor of Rubavu district, said that a total of 1,564 houses were damaged in the sectors of Nyamyumba, Ngerero, Kanama, and Nyundo. Of these houses, 855 were completely destroyed by flooding and landslides, while 719 sustained severe damage and are no longer habitable, he explained. Nzabonimba further noted that an additional 287 houses are situated in high-risk zones due to the recent disasters. We will relocate residents from the land along River Sebeya, as these houses are at risk of collapse. However, the land will still belong to the residents and can be used for various activities after leaving a buffer zone, Nzabonimba stated. The district has identified 870 families to be relocated to the three designated sites for the construction of model villages. Homeowners whose houses were destroyed will receive rent fees while awaiting relocation. ALSO READ: Rwanda needs Rwf30bn to resettle families affected by disasters However, there are no current plans to relocate major infrastructure affected along the river, such as the Gihira water treatment plant, Gisenyi hydropower plant, schools, and factories like the Pfunda tea factory. Gilbert Baryaningwe, 73, who experienced previous floods caused by River Sebeya, described the recent flooding as the worst ever. He urged the government to invest in infrastructure that can control flooding and called for the construction of more retaining walls for flood control. The flooding in the affected districts of the western province originates from the River Sebeya catchments in Rubavu, Rutsiro, Nyabihu, and Ngororero districts. Efforts to address the sustained flooding include the construction of two dams around Sebeya River, which were ongoing at the time of the recent disasters. The government had allocated Rwf7.5 billion for the construction of these dams to mitigate flooding. According to the Sebeya Catchment Management Plan spanning from 2018 to 2024, landscape restoration is necessary for approximately 18,000 hectares at risk of soil erosion within the Sebeya River catchment area. This measure aims to reduce economic losses for off-farm businesses surrounding the river. Baryaningwe emphasized that exploiting the land even after relocation from the riverbank could enable residents to continue earning a living. He suggested growing cash crops and other agricultural products to address food insecurity. ALSO READ: Will proposed Rwf7.5 billion dams curb Sebeya River floods? Mohamed Icyizanye, a 43-year-old resident, shared that he lost two houses due to the disasters, while another was damaged. Despite living 700 meters away from River Sebeya, they were still affected by the flooding. Icyizanye emphasized the need for additional retaining walls to control flooding. The displaced families will be relocated to three sites: two in the Rugerero sector and one in the Nyamyumba sector. Shakila Nyirarukundo, another resident, suggested that rehousing them near their original land could be beneficial. Additionally, the National Identification Agency (NIDA) has mobilized a workforce to assist residents who lost their land titles in the devastating floods. Nyirarukundo stressed the importance of planning resilient agriculture to ensure continued land cultivation in the model villages. The government requires approximately Rwf30 billion to construct 3,006 houses for affected residents across Rubavu, Ngororero, Nyabihu, Rutsiro, Karongi, Gakenke, Burera, Musanze, and Nyamagabe districts in the Western, Northern, and Southern provinces.