Economy loses over Rwf200 billion through disasters

Construction works on a section of the Kigali-Gatuna highway, in Gicumbi District, which was destroyed by landslides in May this year. It is such disasters that cost the economy a staggering Rwf204 billion in the first six month of this year. File

Disaster induced damages caused more than Rwf204 billion in economic losses, from January to June 2018, an assessment conducted in 15 districts most affected by disasters shows.

The damages caused by the disasters — floods, landslides and lightning — included destruction of 15, 264 houses and 9,412 hectares of crops, as well as death of 797 livestock.

The loss is equivalent to 10 per cent of the total annual national budget for Rwanda.

Disasters also killed 234 people from January to October 2018 and injured 268 people, the Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs says.

The revelation was made on Friday last week during a press news on the International Day for Disaster Reduction (IDDR), which is celebrated on October 13 each year.

It marked the launch of the Disaster Risk Reduction Week, which will run from October 13 to 19, 2018.

Rwanda is marking IDDR 2018 under the theme: “Mitigating disasters to reduce economic losses.”

For instance, CORIMARU, a cooperative of rice farmers in in Rurambi Marshland in Bugesera District, lost 558 hectares of rice plantation due to floods.

The marshland was the main source of livelihoods for some 1,800 farmers. They have been soliciting for support from government, the president of the cooperative, Athanase Murenzi, said.

Farmers had borrowed Rwf173 million from financial institutions, and Rwf50 million from Mayange Rice – a rice processing factory in Mayange Sector of Bugesera—to execute their farming activities. Their cooperative also spent over Rwf105 million from its coffers to buy fertilisers, seeds and pesticides to improve farm productivity.

The floods swept the rice plantation when it had started producing grains, denting the farmers’ hopes of a bumper harvest, which had been projected.

The farmers were expecting to harvest between May and June.

A water dyke, which was set up to prevent the overflow of River Akagera into farmers’ fields, failed to contain the flooding.

UCORIBU, a union of rice farmers’ cooperatives operating in Gisagara, Huye and Nyanza districts with over 13,000 farmers, had planted rice on about 1,769 hectares.

Upto 743.5 hectares were destroyed by floods, leading to losses amounting to over 3,130 tonnes of rice or over Rwf932.7 million in monetary value, according to Theoneste Nsengimana, the agronomist of UCORIBU.

“There is some rice produce that we could get, but we lost it to floods.

“Some farmers failed to pay back bank loan that they used to buy fertilisers,” UCORIBU coordinator, Jérôme Mbonirema told The New Times.

Poor water canals blamed

There are feeder roads that were constructed but lacked proper water channels, Mbonirema said.

“Heaps of soil were carried away by heavy rain water, and sediments submerged flooding our rice plantations in Cyili Marshland, and Mushaduka marshland in Gikonko Sector,” he said.

Speaking during the news conference, the Minister at MIDIMAR, Jeanne d’Arc De Bonheur, reminded Rwandans that disaster risk reduction is everyone’s responsibility.

“Disaster risk mitigation requires unified efforts from individuals, public and private institutions, NGOs and other partners. Specifically, we invite the population to respect all disaster mitigation measures in place,” she observed

During this week, MIDIMAR said it will hold different activities including tightly fixing house roofs, maintaining and digging new water canals as well as partnering with media houses to carry out awareness activities among communities.


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