The newly created Ministry for Disaster Preparedness and Refugees Affairs is undergoing an intensive capacity building of employees before it becomes fully operational, a top official has said.
The ministry is headed by former Defence Minister, Gen Marcel Gatsinzi.
According to the head of Disaster Management Task Force, Commissioner of Police Cyprien Gatete, the new ministry has prioritized equipping relevant personnel, training rescuers and advocacy.
“We are going to strengthen the already existing system and be on the alert to respond to any emerging disaster quickly and effectively,” Gatete said in an interview with The New Times.
“Previously, the National Police and Rwanda Defense Force (RDF) responded to several disasters that displaced hundreds of citizens, but we need to train more rescuers,” Gatete said.
He added that more equipment like helicopters and trucks that are capable of navigating slippery surfaces will be purchased to assist in rescuing victims of disasters.
According to Gatete, due to the country’s topography, several regions are prone to landslides.
He says that landslides have displaced about 1,000 families in Musanze and Rubavu.
Sensitization will be carried out in these areas to discourage citizens from settling in high-risk sites, and later those locations will be secured by planting trees on the hill-sides, he said.
Meteorological and geological equipment to provide climatic information are also largely needed to facilitate in the planning so that various stakeholders can get early warning.
He said that they have identified about ten possible disasters that include earthquakes, mud and landslides, volcanic eruptions, floods, and town fires among others.
He says that they have mapped areas that are most likely to be affected by land and mudslides in the districts of Muhanga, Gicumbi, Gakenke and Musanze.
Nyamasheke and Rusizi were identified as being prone to earthquakes while volcanic eruptions are likely in Musanze and Rubavu.