48,000 households stuck in high risk zones ahead of heavy rains

Last year, the economy lost an estimated Rwf204 billion to disasters, which also left 234 people dead and 268 injured.
Kimihurura high risk zone. Officials in the sector took a decision to relocate the most vulnerable residents. / Sam Ngendahimana

As Rwanda Meteorology Agency warns of imminent disasters due to heavy rains expected in the coming months, Rwanda Housing Authority (RHA) has decried the lack of resources to resettle 48,000 households that live in high risk zone.

The issue was highlighted on Thursday during a news conference organised by the Ministry in charge of Emergency Management, which has called upon Rwandans to adopt disaster risk mitigation measures as the country braces itself for flooding and landslides.

The national climate outlook for March to May predicts heavy rainfall in some parts of Western, Northern and Southern provinces and the City of Kigali, which could potentially trigger disasters. 

The disasters, the ministry warned, could mostly hurt people who live in high risk zones in addition to destroying infrastructure and crops.

Last year, the economy lost an estimated Rwf204 billion to disasters, according to the Ministry for Emergency Management which also left 234 people dead and 268 injured.

Eric Serubibi, the Director General of RHA, said that there are over 48,000 householders living in high risk zones across the county of which 13,000 live in Kigali.

However, the official said, the housing authority has adopted a phased approach of resettling people from high risk zones, saying that those who have the financial capacity can relocate themselves.

Serubibi disclosed that to resettle one household from high risk zone to a safer place with  a house, roads, water, energy  and other infrastructures requires at least Rwf30 million.

This means that government needs at least Rwf1.4 trillion to resettle 48,000 households.

RHA has started implementing a joint strategy with City of Kigali and other partners to relocate people from high risk zones of Rebero, Jali, Kimisagara and other parts of Kigali.

“There is a model village that is being constructed in Karama, Nyarugenge District that will be completed in the middle of this year and will shelter 240 households. However, this is small number comparing to 13,000 households that need to be resettled. We have to start by those who are exposed to higher risk and without financial capacity to do it themselves,” he said.

Pondering affordable rent

Some of those in high risk zones are tenants and low income earners who do not have the resources to rent decent houses.

“We are conducting a survey on the cost and status of rent and findings will reveal the number of tenants in the country and their income levels, which will be used by property developers and investors to construct affordable houses.”

Germaine Kamayirese, the Minister for Emergency Management, highlighted the need for everyone to adopt disaster risk mitigation measures.

To build a disaster resilient community, the population is required to get used to the execution of disaster risk reduction strategies. They need to fix the roofs of their houses, relocate from high risk zones and build houses with quality materials,” she said.

She said that houses in wetlands and hilly areas should immediately move to mitigate any effects.

“The houses must be surrounded by a strong foundation, and sacks of sand to prevent run-off water from entering their houses,” she said.

editorial@newtimesrwanda.com

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