While effects of last week’s heavy rains that hit parts of Nyagatare District are, by far, incomparable to the still-unfolding tragic aftermath on Japan in the wake of Friday’s huge earthquake and widespread tsunami that devastated the country’s northeastern coast, such incidents remind us just how vulnerable we are to the increasingly unpredictable Mother Nature.
For tsunamis and earthquakes, it is extremely difficult to design an effective preventive plan, but there are several low-key disasters that can be avoided, or whose effects can be minimized, if only appropriate measures were taken before hand.
Over the years, different regions of Rwanda have experienced varying forms and degrees of disasters, ranging from floods and earthquakes, to landslides and heavy El Nino rains. This is largely due to varied topography in different parts of the country, as well as the diverse levels of environmental degradation. Luckily, in Rwanda, such disasters have barely resulted in loss of life, although millions of Francs are often lost in damaged property.
What’s more, recovery process costs huge state resources, and desperate victims are often exposed to dangerous health conditions as they await new homes. Yet, the increasing incidences of these natural catastrophes signal a more worrying trend in the future, with far-reaching consequences.
It is, therefore, paramount that the Government and other stakeholders employ every available means to lay down concrete mechanisms to mitigate the effects of such tragedies.
The population needs to be sensitized on how best to minimize potential disasters, for instance, by observing construction standards. In addition, land usage master plans should include techniques to help prevent likely disasters.
More importantly, there is need to maintain the current impressive momentum towards restoring the country’s green cover, and reversing soil degradation. But if the ultimate objective is to be realized faster, the local governments and the general public will have to take the lead.