NYABIHU - Rwanda yesterday, for the first time, marked the International Day for Disaster Reduction with a call on youth especially students to fully participate in activities that minimise consequences caused by catastrophes.
The day was marked in Nyabihu District, Western Province, which is one of the most disaster-prone areas due to the nature of landscape coupled with destructive human activities.
The theme of this year emphasises the role of the youth in preventing calamities by engaging in activities such as tree-planting and information dissemination.
“This district is prone to disasters partly due to reasons beyond human control,” said Celestin Kabahizi, the Governor of the Western Province.
“But some reasons are also due to human activities such as cutting of trees, not digging terraces and building houses where there are high risks whenever it rains,” he mentioned.
Since 2006, Nyabihu has seen 518 houses destroyed while 42 people, mostly children, have been struck dead by lightning; the highest in the country.
Over 200 families have successfully been relocated but many still live in endangered areas as the district authorities solicit for support to relocate them to safer areas.
The theme centred on youth and children because they are most affected whenever calamities of this nature strike.
“Protection of children before, during and after disasters should be prioritised because they are physically weak,” said Gen. Marcel Gatsinzi, the Minister of Disaster Preparedness and Refugee Settlement.
It was noted that rains still affect the area in the district with German construction firm, Strabag, singled out for channelling drainage systems into residential areas.
Edward Nsabimana, a resident, decried the frequency of disasters in the area and says it has affected crop production and led to hunger in the district.
“Our farms are destroyed and we register poor harvests thus which is a threat to food security in this region,” explained Nsabimana.
He appealed to the district to seek a lasting solution to the poor drainage system that washes away their houses.