[SPONSORED] Rwanda restoring dignity of vulnerable families by providing affordable housing

It is ten O’clock and though the sun is beating down on this newly occupied model village, Murekatete Maria 52 years, a widow and Genocide survivor has already started work on her sewing machine on a veranda next to her house.
The forty housing units of Muyabarayi model village in Masaka sector in Kicukiro District.
The forty housing units of Muyabarayi model village in Masaka sector in Kicukiro District.

It is ten O’clock and though the sun is beating down on this newly occupied model village, Murekatete Maria 52 years, a widow and Genocide survivor has already started work on her sewing machine on a veranda next to her house.

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Murekatete Maria 52 years, a widow  on her sewing machine. All photos by Joseph Mudingu.

Despite the fact that she has no shelter from the sun, it is evident to see that Murekatete is happy. She is among the 40 poor families that were given residential houses in Ayabaraya model village in Masaka Sector in Kicukiro District.

“It is just one month since we were relocated to this wonderful place and believe me we are very grateful to the government for looking out for us. Not only are we housed, but I am lucky to be able to work from home and earn a living without worrying about rent which was my nightmare,” Murekatete explains as she works.

Her neighbor and new friend, Mukamasabo Philomena watches and charts with her most of the time as she does her work. Mukamasabo is disabled and spends her day in a wheel chair.

“I have been in this medical situation for a long time since the Genocide and because of my broken back, am unable to walk. However I thank the government for making it possible for me to own a home. It is a dream for I had lost all hope” Mukamasabo says.

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Mukamasabo in a wheel chair.

The village has been provided with a school that is yet to be built, a health post that is about to be completed, connection to electricity and water for all houses, a modern market and a public hall for weddings and meetings and a 12-kilometre road linking the village to the nearest trading centre.

In total are ten houses constructed in four-in-one model totaling to 40 housing units worth Rwf681,712,311. Each house is valued at Rwf45 million.

Many families from all over the country most of whom were formerly living in high-risk zones have started living in brand new houses in model villages in all districts.

About 200 model houses were unveiled in different parts of the country during the end of month community work-‘Umuganda’ last month.

The construction of planned settlements is the way to go in relocating people living in high risk zones and promoting proper dwelling.

Approximately 319 dwelling units have been completed in 30 Districts IDP Model Villages emulating Rweru model village.
This is part of Government plan to see all 30 districts of the country have an urban community settlement by the end of the next financial year.

Rwf22 billion was allocated in the past fiscal year to kick-start the construction of model villages in all the country’s 30 districts.

Out of 360,000 HHs, 60,136 HHs were relocated from scattered areas in 2015-2016, and 40,000 HHs were relocated from scattered settlements and properly settled during the last fiscal year 2016/17 when the Government initiated the construction of at least one model village in every district.

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Murekatete Maria 52 years, a widow  on her sawing machine. All photos by Joseph Mudingu.

In the fiscal year 2017-2018, 17,249 households living in scattered settlements and 3,905 in high risk zones will be relocated and this will increase the number of housing units in different model villages.

The model villages will provide basic infrastructure like water and electricity in the existing villages, as well as essential amenities like nursery schools and community halls, among others.

Similar to each other, these model villages are constructed in a style two-in-one or four-in-one model that maximizes land use and encourages densification yet spacious and supports social cohesion.

Like Murekatete and Mukamasabo, many families lived in isolation, completely cut off from the rest of the country. Life to them was unbearable as no single basic service could be accessed and no guarantee of life from the risk zones.

Rwanda combines urbanization and rural settlement development in one sector and is well positioned to address the linkage between urban and rural settlement and development.

Six Secondary Cities were identified in 2013, aiming at a transformation of the economic geography of the country by providing improved, concentrated socio-economic services and opportunities to serve residents across the country, while Kigali remained a primary city with regional import.

The Government of Rwanda is continuously improving the conditions for banks making it easier for citizens to acquire loans, housing mortgages and savings.

According to EICV4, 6.2% of households have a loan from a commercial bank. The share of mortgage loans in total loans was 36.6 % in 6/2016 (up from 33.9 % in 6/2015), meaning that about 235,000 households access mortgage in the country.

The change demonstrates that banks further increased their lending to the mortgage sector with an increased annual growth rate of 38.4% in 2016 compared to 33.7% in 2015.

The Government is also providing financing and supply options for affordable housing to address the projected housing deficit. A national Urbanisation Policy has been adopted in 2015. The policy envisions enabling everyone irrespective of income, base of subsistence, and location to access adequate housing in sustainably planned and developed areas reserved for habitation in Rwanda.

Under the country’s Vision 2020, the Government has predicted that at least 70 per cent of Rwandans in rural areas will be living in planned settlements by the year 2020.

Increasing the servicing levels in urban areas is another priority continuously addressed, with a servicing according to the type and hierarchy of urban area.