With at least 180 people having lost their lives across the country over the last four months due to heavy rains and rain induced disasters across Rwanda, the Government has warned the public to expect more destructive rains in the coming days, urging caution.
The call was made Thursday at a news conference held at the Prime Minister’s Office in Kimihurura during which cabinet ministers briefed journalists on what the Government makes of the deadly impact of recent rains and the measures taken to prevent similar effects in the future.
On Wednesday, a cabinet meeting chaired by President Paul Kagame discussed the issue of the disasters, with the country’s top leaders expressing concern and sympathy to all the affected Rwandans, especially families that lost loved ones and those who lost their properties.
The meeting resolved that the Government would continue to support those affected by the disasters and step up efforts to mitigate impact of natural disasters both in the short- and long-term.
Government wants to put special emphasis on environmental protection, infrastructure development and maintenance, organised settlement as well as improved agriculture practices, officials said.
At yesterday’s post-cabinet meeting media briefing, the Minister for Environment, Dr Vincent Biruta, said that heavy rains will persist for at least in ten more days, especially in northern, western, and south-western parts of the country.
“We urge members of the public to closely follow the weather forecast and take it seriously. Everyone needs to understand that they have to do something to protect themselves from disasters during the current rainy season,” he said.
‘On average this year's rain is one of the heaviest rainfall in 36 years’
Biruta said that rains registered in the last four months are the heaviest Rwanda has recorded in the last 36 years and called on all Rwandans to cooperate in preventive measures taken.
The measures include relocation of residents from high risk zones (amanegeka), setting up rainwater catchment systems in homes and planting trees.
The Minister for Local Government, Francis Kaboneka, urged Rwandans who live in high risk areas to relocate and find shelter somewhere else to avoid further loss of human life.
He said that the Government is ready to offer support to vulnerable members of society in risky zones and are unable to move to safer areas, and urged Rwandans to take in such neighbours on a temporary basis.
“We have asked some people to leave their homes because they are in the eye of the storm. Some have complied while others have ignored the call,” he said.
Last year, Rwanda Housing Authority said that about 7,000 households across the country needed to relocate from high-risk zones and the Government planned to support 3,900 of these to relocate because they were deemed economically disadvantaged.
With over 4,000 hectares of crops washed away by the rains, the Minister of State for Agriculture, Fulgence Nsengiyumva, said that the Government will provide food relief and seeds to needy victims at least until the end of July.
He said that about 7000 tonnes of maize and over 4000 tonnes of beans have been set aside to support such households.
Nsengiyumva disclosed that the 4000 hectares of crops destroyed by the rains were worth about Rwf4 billion.
Disasters that have recently been associated with heavy rains in the country include floods, lightning and landslides.
Experts blame the change in rain patterns to La Niña period, a cooling of the water in the equatorial Pacific that occurs at irregular intervals.
SPATIAL DISTRIBUTION OF RAINFALL FOR THE MONTH OF MAY 2018
- The map above indicates rainfall pattern for different places across the country, the expected rainfall ranges from 5mm to 300mm.
- Generally much of the country will experience rains within the range of 25mm-300mm during the month.
- Heavy rains ranging from 100mm to 300mm is expected in localized places of Gatsibo, Kigali and Nyamagabe along Nyungwe forest.