A senior official at the Rwanda Housing Authority (RHA) on Friday told Saturday Times how three programmes being implemented at the same time are on course to ensure that no Rwandan lives in poor houses, deadly high risk zones, and in scattered settlements in the so near future.
Augustin Kampayana, the head of the human settlement, planning, and development department at RHA, explained that in the set of three related measures is one especially targeting homeless people and those living in very poor houses, “under what we call the human security programme.”
The second, he said, is the continuing effort to remove families from high risk zones – uplands as well as valleys and swampy areas – where fatal accidents are caused by mudslides and floods, among other related risk factors.
The third is continuing helping nationals to relocate from scattered settlements to properly established communal settlements or villages that have requisite basic infrastructure.
“Under the first programme targeting the homeless and those living in poor houses, we started almost last year at the end of phase one, by profiling and then started supporting families to get new homes,” Kampayana said.
“There were 17,000 families and by end June [last year] had reduced the number to slightly above 12,000. By July this year, end of the fiscal year, Districts vowed to have built homes for all of them.”
Asked what kinds of houses are being built, Kampayana noted that they are simple but far better houses for underprivileged people.
“It is a house that is strong but built with semi-permanent material, and has at least two bedrooms, a sitting room, a wash room and toilet and kitchen. They are in all Districts but much depends on a District’s specific situation and capacity. The houses you find in Gasabo District might not be the same as in Nyabikenke District.”
The RHA helps in profiling people in need of this support, designing the houses as well as advocating for financial support.
“We mobilize funds together. Once we know the number and exact status of these people, and know the design, we mobilize together with the District, through the central government.”
High risk zones
Under the second programmme – high risk zones, Kampayana noted that the number of affected people was very big but “some good work” has been done since many people are relocated to safer zones every year.
“We had around 35,000 families countrywide, including the city of Kigali which has many because of its terrain and population. Last year, for example, people were relocated to a new village on Karama hill in Nyarugenge as a kick off.”
The total number of families moved in the past three years alone is more than 8,000 – since there were 3,000 in 2017, 3,906 in 2018 and 1,140 in 2019.
By end July this year, the target is to move 730 families from high risk zones, he said.
Mid last month, the heavy rains that battered the country wreaked havoc and hundreds of famillies had to be evacuated.
The idea of moving people from high risk zones started way back around 2010-2013 soon after the government moved to eliminate poor grass thatched housing countrywide.
Initially, government statistics showed that there were 48, 780 families in high risk zones all over the country. A country-wide mobilization campaign was launched urging people to relocate.
By 2016, Kampayani who was then working in the rural settlement task force in the Ministry of Local Government said, only 3,000 families remained in high risk zones. These were relocated that same year and the government started, afresh, identifying other areas where people were at risk and relocation was in order.
Ending scattered settlements
Under the third programme – of social cases – where people are moving from scattered settlements to properly set up villages with requisite basic infrastructure, people are being helped to acquire plots in well demarcated village sites, and roofing material, among others.
Kampayana said: “Here also, we helped relocate 30,938 families in 2017, 19, 872 families in 2018, and 11, 080 families by June 2019. This year, our target is 8,268 families.”
This too is a continuous plan, he said, that largely depends on available resources and capacity.
But, he explained, it goes hand in hand with an awareness campaign such that people who are able to do it on their won can do so.
“Our aim is to conclude this as soon as possible. At least by 2024, we aim to have Rwandans living in properly set villages, at 80 percent. Right now we are at 67 percent.”Follow https://twitter.com/KarhangaJames