Rwanda Meteorology Agency has warned that heavy rains could persist up to the end of December, a situation that requires all sectors to adapt to disaster effects that will come as a result.
The Agency issued the warning after recent heavy rains which have triggered flooding and landslides that have claimed lives of people and damaged properties in Rwanda and the East African region.
This week landslides have swept away at least 16 households in three sectors in Musanze District, rendering scores of residents homeless.
Due to heavy rains last week, Water and Sanitation Corporation also experienced a problem of turbidity at Nzove water treatment plant due to flooding in Nyabarongo River.
The heavy rains also led to the breaking of the levee at Nyabarongo river causing flooding that has made the road from Muhanga - Ngororero - Mukamira impassable according to a message from the Rwanda National Police on Friday.
Mathieu Mbati Mugunga, the Acting Division Manager in Charge of Weather and Climate Application Services at Meteo Agency told The New Times that 4 people were killed by landslides on Wednesday while 7 got serious injuries.
“Currently we are facing heavy rains in the whole East African region from Ethiopia, Malawi to Rwanda and Burundi,” he said.
He explained that heavy rains in the region are caused by a condition in the atmosphere called “low pressure” in the Indian Ocean that is pulling drivers of heavy rains eastward. These drivers of rains are called “The Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone, or ITCZ” and they are in every country in the region,” he said.
The agency had announced in September that the country would experience moderate rains this month.
“Considering the drivers of rains, we were expecting that heavy rains could slow down by November, but it kept raining due to convergence winds from Indian Ocean and Congo Forests towards East of Africa.
Humidity in the Indian Ocean continues to increase and trigger heavy rains in the region. These heavy rains will continue up to the end of December,” he said.
He added that it will keep raining in January next year in most of parts of the country such as Northern Province, part of Southern province in Rusizi, Nyamasheke, Nyaruguru and Nyamagabe.
“Heavy rains are causing damages in the whole region. For instance on December 6, at least 38 people in Kenya died of disasters in only one night. The disasters damaged infrastructure including roads,” he said.
He urged all people, institutions to strengthen mitigation and adaptation measures.
“All sectors can be affected by disasters but agriculture, transport and energy are most affected sector. For instance last week water treatment plants were affected by muddy flooding. People need to continue controlling erosion to reduce speed of flooding. Again almost 50 per cent of farmers’ beans will not harvest since they were affected by heavy rains which is not favorable climate for beans. Agricultural experts should tell farmers what to plant depending on the predicted weather,” he warned.
The Ministry of Emergency Management is educating people about the way to adapt to disasters.
On her Twitter account, Germaine Kamayirese, the Minister in charge of Emergency Management urged Rwandans to retain rainwater by using tanks and other equipment to reduce flooding.
Other techniques to curb flooding, she explained include constructing water drainages, gabions that reduce speed of water, avoiding waste dumping, planting trees and bamboos along rivers and rehabilitation of old bridges.
They also include relocation from high-risk zones, using sacks filled with sand to curb flooding, applying terraces, protecting erosion around houses among others.
From January to September this year, the damages due to disasters were worth about Rwf744 million.
Situation in the region
At least 280 people have been killed and more than 2.8 million others have been affected by unusually heavy rainfall and flooding in eastern Africa, the UN humanitarian agency said on December 5.
The affected countries are Kenya, Djibouti, South Sudan, Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda, Somalia and others.
For instance, the UN agency said the annual short rains which ordinarily last from October to December have been exceptionally heavy in Kenya and affected more than 160,000 people in 31 of the country’s 47 counties.
At least four people were killed in eastern Uganda after fresh landslides hit Bududa district, a local official confirmed last week.
On Tuesday, the heavy rains caused fresh floods sweeping more than 20 houses and several crop gardens.
At least 26 people were killed in landslides triggered by heavy rains in northwestern Burundi, officials said Thursday.
132 people have been killed in floods and landslides caused by unusually heavy rainfall in Kenya.
Around 17,000 were displaced and 11,000 livestock swept away by strong waters, government’s spokesman Cyrus Oguna said.
Over 370,000 people who have been displaced by the floods as the rains intensified, water levels in the Shabelle and Juba rivers rose, breaking their banks, flooding vast areas.
About 100,000 people have been uprooted from their homes following torrential rainfall and floods in October in Central African Republic (CAR) where more than 10,000 houses have been destroyed as about 6,700 hectares of farms are flooded.