EDITORIAL: Umuganda can play a major role in helping high-risk zone dwellers

It is that time of the year when disasters are just a knock away. The meteo agency has said just as much, warning the public of a pending heavy rains season for the next three months.

The nature of Rwanda’s topography saves it from the kinds of flooding witnessed in other countries that have poor sewage and floodwater management system.  But the hilly nature makes it a prime candidate for landslides and the safety issue is multiplied when the heavy rain storms encounter poorly constructed buildings.

At the moment, the Government is scratching its head on what to do with the over 48,000 households located in high risk areas, more than a quarter of them in Kigali alone.

Relocating households to areas that have all the necessary amenities is a costly affair and the country needs one –and-a-half trillion francs to see the problem go away.

Last year, the Government lost over Rwf200 billion to disasters and over 230 lives, a very expensive enterprise that could have been mitigated by early warnings and planning.

While the rains are upon us and we have little options, the Government could begin by mobilising the population in specialised Umuganda geared specifically to build homes for those to be relocated.

The country has come together several times when needed to solve pressing questions, the issue of helping find shelter for the vulnerable can be treated in similar manner.