Treasury could save Rwf37b annually by containing floods, drought – report

A woman is carried cross a flooded Nyabugogo road in 2011. File.

The Rwandan economy loses at least $43 million every year due to floods and drought, according to the latest report on the country’s disaster profile.

The figures were presented during last week’s workshop on building disaster resilience to natural hazards in Sub-Saharan African, which took place in Kigali.

As floods and drought batter the country throughout the year, the Disaster Risk Profile states that due to floods, Rwanda loses almost 0.5 per cent of the total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) every year.

Roberto Rudari, the CIMA Research Foundation project manager engaged by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction to generate risk profiles on flood and drought in 16  Sub-Saharan African countries, said that the assessment shows that floods in Rwanda affect 12,000 people every year mostly in the Western and Southern provinces.

Produced through the support of The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), the report says that drought triggers $30 million direct economic losses very year.

When you factor in the losses occasioned by flooding, which is equivalent to $13 million annually, the overall economic loss caused by disasters is estimated at $43 million (RwfRwf37. 2 billion)

The loses stem from disruptions in agriculture, transportation, service and the housing sectors, according to officials.

On average, Rudari said in a presentation, about 300,000 people or 2.5 per cent of the population are affected by drought every year, adding that the number is expected to increase to 15 per cent if population growth is accounted for.

Currently 2.8 per cent of livestock are affected by droughts every year expected to increase six times if not controlled.

From 2005 to 2015, the analysis shows, more than 700,000 people lost lives due to disasters worldwide that have affected over 1.5 billion people while the total economic loss was more than $1.3 trillion.

Jeanne d’Arc Debonheur, the Minister of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs said that Rwanda is prone to a variety of natural and man-made disasters, which cause physical, socio-economic and environmental damages and losses.

“The major disasters that cause huge impacts in Rwanda, include hydro-meteorological disasters namely floods, landslides, strong winds, thunderstorms as well as drought. Thus, it is confirmed that all parts of the country are not affected at the same level and this is due to a number of reasons like triggering factors,” she said.

Since January to June 2018, she said, Rwanda experienced strong rains in 15 districts across the country.

“Post disaster assessment is now being conducted to quantify the damages and losses and generate a clear picture of the disaster magnitude during that period,” she said.

Jean-Baptiste Nsengiyumva, the Director of Risk Reduction and Preparedness Unit at the Ministry said that so many things have been done and still being elaborated to avert disasters.

“We have contingency plans for outbreak events such as drought, floods and landslides and we are also elaborating early warning system for major hazards,” he said.

The efforts are in line with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015–2030 adopted at the Third United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, which represented a unique opportunity for countries to prevent new and reduce existing disaster risk.