Gakenke rolls out new strategies to control disasters

Authorities in Gakenke have started implementing new strategies to lessen the effects of disasters in the district. The move follows recent heavy rains that killed 34 people and left 1.355 others homeless.
Gakenke residents terrace land during Umuganda last month. / Pontian Kabeera.
Gakenke residents terrace land during Umuganda last month. / Pontian Kabeera.

Authorities in Gakenke have started implementing new strategies to lessen the effects of disasters in the district.

The move follows recent heavy rains that killed 34 people and left 1.355 others homeless.

 

Speaking to The New Times, last week, the district vice-mayor for economic development, Aime Francois Niyonsenga, said residents have been encouraged to terrace hills and their gardens in an effort to control torrential waters.

 

“Disasters will always occur, you can never stop them but the issue is how to control them. We hope these strategies will help manage the effects of disasters,” said Niyonsenga.

 

He believes the effects of last May’s disasters were worsened by lack of terraces on people’s farms, leading to destruction of several hectares of crops.

For example, beans on 194 hectares in Kigoma marshland were submerged affecting livelihoods of about 1,000 people.

Niyonsenga said bamboo trees have also been planted around the terraces to prevent running water during heavy downpour.

More than 4000 residents, many of whom are victims of recent disasters, are employed to dig terraces as well as plant trees and grass.

They are paid Rwf1,000 per day as well as relief supplies like food because many were left with nothing to survive on.

Various stakeholders have been supportive of this effort, including Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs and UN, which provided Rwf783 million for both the execution and implementation of the new strategies geared towards proper handling of the post-disaster effects, according to the vice mayor.

The district has also provided manure and seeds to residents to prepare for new planting season.

The Government, in partnership with World Vision, provided Rw25.6 million for iron sheets to help repair houses for 1355 people who were left homeless.

District officials said 919 houses have so far been rebuilt while works on another 156 units are ongoing.

Christine Uwimana, 41, one of the affected residents said life was hard after the disasters but things are now normalising.

“The last three months have been the worst in my life, I was not certain about what to feed my family but now I wake up knowing that my children will get what to eat,” she said.

“I had a garden in Kigoma marshland but all crops were submerged, since then the situation has been bad.”

Uwimana said local leaders have tried to come close to them during this time comforting them and giving them hope that things will get better.

“When the disaster struck, three of my relatives were left homeless. I now live with them with little support but since the idea of planting trees and grasses in the marshland came up, I’m able to sustain them all well,” Uwimana added.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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