Residents living in high risk zones have been urged to relocate to safer areas to avoid falling victim to disasters.
The warning comes days after Rwanda Meteorology Agency (RMA) predicted heavy rainfall in the coming three months in various parts of the country.
According to the RMA officials, due to geographical location of Rwanda, some areas may experience medium risks of flooding and landslides which may lead to loss of property and life beginning in March.
Talking to Saturday Times on Thursday, Augustine Kampayana, the head of Human Settlement, Planning, and Development at Rwanda Housing Authority, said about 7000 people still live in high risk zones in different districts out of the original 48,000 people.
He advised them to relocate to village settlement sites (Imidugudu), adding that 45 per cent of the people living in high risk zones stay in rented dwellings.
Muhanga District had highest number of people living in high risk zones (particularly in Nyabinoni sector) but Kampayana said they are being relocated to Kibumba and Rongi sectors.
He said there is a challenge of relocating residents in high risk zones in Kigali city because it involves first setting up village settlement sites to resettle those in high risk zones and others who are in scattered shanty settlements.
But this cannot stop those ones who want to relocate before disasters strike, Kampayana said.
Our visit to some affected areas in Gasabo District revealed that houses in high risk zones were marked with a red sign.
But residents who spoke to Saturday Times expressed worry over compensation, adding they needed support to secure where to relocate.
Seraphine Mukamana, a resident of Gatsata in Gasabo District said, “we don’t have where to go. We need government support to look for where to go, otherwise we are stuck.”
However, Gasabo District vice Mayor for Social Affairs, Languida Nyirabahire, said while the district would not evict people forcefully it encouraged residents in high risk zones to relocate because it’s in their best interest.
“We have tried several times to sensitise them on the dangers of living in high risk zones but they are reluctant to relocate. We want those renting in high risk zones to get other places to rent and those who own houses to also relocate before it’s too late. When government gets money they will get support while they are staying in safer places.”