Residents in disaster-prone zones pose huge challenge - MIDIMAR

There is need to know the exact number of households living in high risk zones so as to devise proper mechanisms for disaster management.

There is need to know the exact number of households living in high risk zones so as to devise proper mechanisms for disaster management. 

The call, made by the Ministry of Refugees and Disaster Management (MIDIMAR), comes after a downpour, last weekend, claimed 12 lives in Kigali, nine of whom were from Nyarugenge District and three from Gasabo.

 

The rain, which was characterised by strong winds, damaged 256 houses in various parts of the country.

 

Figures also show that, since January this year, the rains have caused 32 deaths, left 48 people injured, damaged 898 houses and destroyed 138 hectares of crops.

 

The ministry said that, so far, Rwf4 billion has been set aside to support people in the high risk areas.

Seraphine Mukantabana, the Minister for Disaster Management and Refugees Affairs, however, said the money might not be enough considering the number of people in need.

The other challenge, she said, was people who do not comply with the Kigali City masterplan when constructing houses, making themselves vulnerable to such disasters.

Mukantabana added that people refusing to vacate risky areas saying it is where their ancestors lived was the other challenge.

Lack of planned water channels and the need to widen or rehabilitate the already existing ones, which results in water flooding parts of the city, especially Nyabugogo, the minister said, was also a major hurdle.

“In the past, we never used to have issues of people drowning in floods. That is because water did not flow with the same intensity as it does today,” Mukantabana said.

She said there was urgent need to manage and make use of rain water.

“Instead of rain causing calamity, it should be an advantage through harvesting it,” she noted.

The minister said the Rwanda Environment Fund (FONERWA) had a programme to help people access tanks to harvest rain water, but not many people had shown interest in getting the subsidised tanks.

Mukantabana urged people to respect the information provided by the Rwanda Meteorological Agency regarding potential disasters, but called for timely reporting of disaster-related information to facilitate rapid intervention.

The vice mayor in charge of economic development in the City of Kigali, Parfait Busabizwa, said each district in the city had a team carrying out assessment of high risk zones to identify the households most in need.

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