A fresh assessment to identify households in risk zones across the country is underway as officials at the Rwanda Housing Authority (RHA) push efforts to improve rural settlement, an official at the agency has revealed.
Augustin Kampayana, head of human settlement, planning, and development at RHA, told Sunday Times on Friday that so far nearly 21,000 homes in twelve districts that have been assessed across the country deserve relocation to safer sites.
The assessment started in March and is scheduled to end by June 2017, with the RHA technicians now using scientific methods such as measuring levels of slopes and rivers or swamps’ boundaries in comparison to where people live.
The evaluation also includes suggesting alternative settlement sites where people could relocate.
The real picture of all the homes across the country that need to relocate will be available at the end of June but Kampayana said that the assessment started with districts with more cases of households in risk zones.
They include Muhanga (5,158), Gakenke (7,540), Karongi (2,261), Gicumbi (1,825), Nyamasheke (2,274), Rusizi (1,109), and Nyagatare (561).
Among the nearly 21,000 homes in twelve districts, over 3000 were found in ‘high’ risk zones such as swamps and very steep slopes and the official advised local officials to fast-track the process to move them to safer areas.
The government has allocated Rwf4.5 billion in the current fiscal year to help people in high risk areas across the country move to safe areas and the money is used by local officials to buy building materials and plots for those who are indigent among the households that need to move.
“Every district keeps a list of people in high risk areas in order to support them. The priority are those living in high risk zones at the moment,” Kampayana said.
Most households currently in high risk zones are found in Southern Province’s Muhanga District with about 3000 homes.
Kampayana says that relocating people in Muhanga’s high risk zones has proved to be difficult due to the topography of the district, where entire villages had to be moved.
“The entire sector of Nyabinoni is being shifted to Rongi Sector,” he said, explaining that the process for relocation might take long because some residents may not easily find new settlement sites in their areas.
Early this month, RHA officials announced that the government will pursue a plan to set aside planned settlement sites in different parts of the country and invest in building ‘model villages’ there as part of efforts to modernise rural habitat.
“Rwandans need to liberate themselves from inappropriate habitat. They need to understand that living in village settlement sites (imidugudu) helps to scale up access to infrastructure,” Eng. Didier Sagashya, Director General of RHA, said at the launch of the ‘model villages’ plan.
Under the plan, 30 settlement sites, one in each of the country’s 30 districts, will have been set aside and provided with roads, water, and electricity before the end of the current fiscal year 2016-2017 in June.
It’s to such sites among other areas that households found in risk zones will be advised to move.