The Government is considering erecting temporary shelters in safer zones for people who have not yet moved from high risk areas, especially in Gasabo and Muhanga districts.
According to Jean Baptiste Nsengiyumva, the Director of Disaster Risk Reduction and Preparedness at the Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee affairs (MIDIMAR), this is part of measures to mitigate potential effects of the projected El Nino rains in the country in the coming months.
“We have a preparedness plan for the El Nino threat. In collaboration with affected districts and the Ministry of Local Government and Social Affairs (MINALOC), once good sites are availed, MIDIMAR, Red Cross and other partners could erect big strong tents to house many families for a few months,” Nsengiyumva told The New Times yesterday.
“The biggest challenge is the mindset of the people who still resist, saying they must first be compensated. We are urging people to drop that mindset and move from high risk zones.”
Nsengiyumva was speaking to The New Times on the sidelines of the launch of the National Risk Atlas of Rwanda, a new document providing a more comprehensive disaster risk profile of the country.
The $635,350 atlas, the first of its kind in the region, possesses information on hazards and risks, and comes with lots of relief since the ministry will now better coordinate disaster management efforts in a proactive manner and thus reduce disaster risks.
It presents results of the hazard assessment and mapping of five major hazards that prevail in the country: drought, landslides, floods, earthquakes and windstorms.
Nsengiyumva said some districts completed relocating people from high-risk zones but others such as Muhanga and Gasabo continue to lag behind, partly because of the big number of people in those areas.
“In Muhanga, there is an area called Nyabinoni that used to host many people, but because of the district’s lack of capacity to relocate them, the necessity has been delayed,” he explained.
“About 4,000 to 5,000 people still live in high-risk areas in the entire country.”
One of the challenges, however, is that most of the people in high-risk zones in and around the city depend much on the employment opportunities presented by urban areas and do not wish to move far.
“Most people living in Kigali suburbs such as Gatsata are tenants and the owners, sometimes, do not live in those areas. Intensive awareness is crucial so that those able can relocate themselves. The government cannot be able to relocate each and every one considering the limited resources,” Nsengiyumva said.
Nyamagabe, Karongi, Rutsiro, Nyabihu and Ngororero are some of the other districts with residents in high-risk zones.
During the launch of the atlas, yesterday, Magdy Martínez-Solimán, the UNDP assistant administrator and director of the bureau for policy and programme support, said every dollar injected into planning and preparedness efforts save about $5 to $10 that would be used later in disaster management when a catastrophe hits.
Among others, he said, the atlas affirms that in order to reduce disaster risk, people must also be prepared for future worse case scenarios.
“This requires robust monitoring, assessment and understanding of disaster risks and their integration into development planning and policies,” Martínez-Solimán said.
The atlas reveals that about 2.8 million Rwandans are exposed to windstorms at an intensity of moderate to strong gales and that 148 health facilities and 882 schools are exposed to windstorms.