Rwanda Housing Authority (RHA) has launched an awareness campaign on basic housing construction guidelines in a bid to implement the Government’s policy on housing and settlement.
The campaign launched in Rwamagana District on Wednesday will later be rolled out to the rest of the country.
Addressing hundreds of local leaders and other stakeholders at the provincial headquarters in Rwamagana, the Director General of RHA, Esther Mutamba, said the building code sets out technical provisions for the design and construction of new buildings.
It also encompasses regulations, guidelines and standards that protect people from unsafe settlements.
“The code helps us, among other things, to control informal settlements,” she said.
Pointing to the country’s land shortage, Mutamba noted that only 4.4 per cent of the country’s total surface area was left for settlement. There are 415 people per square kilometer, according to the 2012 National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR) data.
The same data shows the country’s population increases by 300,000 people annually.
“Urban spiral due to speculation particularly in urban areas is a big issue…This means we get a population equal to that of one district every year. This is dangerous as it puts a strain on the available resources,” Mutamba said.
She said that though the country was promoting urban development, there were still gaps which call for proper planning to mitigate negative effects of rapid urban development.
Mutamba said several fire outbreaks couldn’t be putout because it took time to locate the affected buildings.
“There are issues that affect proper planning in urban areas like Kigali city, where 78 per cent of residents cannot access bank loans to construct proper houses due to their low incomes,” she said.
Mutamba said rural settlements stood at 83 per cent countrywide, of which only 48 per cent are planned settlements. Odette Uwamriya, the provincial governor, reiterated the need for proper settlement.
She warned developers against erecting haphazard structures.
“We have to build going up, there is free space in the air …the building code is a key guide to us. Settlements must be on international standards and emergence construction no longer has room in our times,” she said.