MPs push for disaster fund as rains cause havoc

About 10,000 houses, worth an estimated Rwf24 billion, were destroyed by heavy rains that hit various parts of the country since January; this is without counting damage to infrastructure, not to mention loss of life.

The disasters have led to members of the parliamentary standing committee on National Budget and Patrimony to call for a special fund for effective response.

 

The Chairperson of the committee, Constance Mukayuhi Rwaka, said disasters were costly and sometimes sudden, which calls for preparedness to deal with them. She added that the effort needs support from all to succeed.

 

Rwaka was speaking during budget hearings Thursday when officials from the Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs (MIDIMAR) were appearing before the committee to present their proposed budget for 2018/2019.

 

“There should be a kind of fund specifically meant for rescue,” she said.

She pointed out that an account number through which people can give their contribution can be opened and communicated to the public.

Speaking to The New Times last week, the Minister for Finance and Economic Planning, Dr Uzziel Ndagijimana, said that though the homes destroyed by heavy rains were estimated to be worth Rwf24 billion, the value might increase as disasters continue to cause heavy damages.

He added that the Ministry of Infrastructure (MININFRA) had estimated Rwf5 billion as damaged infrastructure, including bridges and roads, so far.

The Minister for MIDIMAR, Jeanne d’Arc De Bonheur, said that “MIDIMAR had prepared a draft for the ministerial order to govern the fund which was with Rwanda Law Reform Commission for review.

“We hope that once it [the fund] is available, we will be getting contributions so that we are able to support refugees and Rwandans affected by disasters,” she said.

Meanwhile, Minister Ndajimana said repairing damages cannot be done at the same time as there are some that need urgency while others can be done in the next financial year [which will start July 2018], or in the long term.

“What is being done is emergency rescue, and to fix some damaged property. For instance, if a road has been damaged, it should urgently be rehabilitated for movement to continue,” he said.

Setting up disaster resilient settlements

About 44,000 households in high risk zones identified by the Rwanda Housing Authority were to be relocated but the number has gone higher as a result of recent destructive disasters.

“People will play a role in their own relocation, but for those who cannot afford it, the government will provide support,” she said.

So far, MIDIMAR has provided iron sheets worth about Rwf140 million to some disaster affected households.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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