NYABIHU — The victims of last year’s floods in Bigogwe sector, Nyabihu district have accused some local leaders of not giving them the building materials and plots meant for them.
They say the materials have been given to their close friends and family members. The residents currently living in temporary tents in Bigogwe say the practice has led them to remain homeless.
The September 12 flood victims whose homes and property were destroyed by heavy rains allege that the responsible leaders allocate the materials on the basis of nepotism, and they are biased on many would be beneficiaries.
“There have been many irregularities and favoritism in the resettlement process. We know some people that have been favored by the local leaders to get land yet they were not homeless and flood victims. They are using our names to get favors when many of us are still homeless,” complained one of the flood victims who preferred anonymity.
Contacted for a comment, Nyabihu Mayor Charles Ngirabatware said the district had received the complaints and was doing everything possible to locate the grass root leaders who are using their positions to abuse the process.
“Last week, Nyabihu district advisory council visited Bigogwe to settle disputes which were in the land distribution process. It’s true there were favors done to some people by the responsible leaders in the land distribution process but the district advisory committee is working on the issue and the responsible parties will be castigated,” he said.
The mayor explained that the district authority was in a process of cross checking to ensure all beneficiaries are genuine flood victims. He said land would be withdrawn from dubious beneficiaries. He stressed that land, and houses were meant for the homeless flood victims.
Commenting on food shortages among the group, who are currently depending on relief aid because they lack land for cultivation; after the district authority banned agricultural activities on Gishwati hill, the mayor said that studies have been conducted to establish safe zones for agricultural activities. He said soon the victims would be shown those safe zones where they would carry out agricultural activities to sustain their households.
“The Ministry of Lands has carried out research on Gishwati hills and experts have demarcated four zones. The ministry will then come and tell us how these zones will be used depending on the nature of their elevation,” he said.
He explained that zones on high altitudes will be used for tree planting and coffee plantation while those on very lower altitude could be used for agricultural activities. The Mayor said the district was in the process of reallocating flood victims to other cultivatable lands.
“We are doing this to avoid the past mistakes, we know Gishwati is very fertile for agriculture but continuous agricultural activity on the elevated hills could lead to environmental disasters such as those that we experienced last year in which we lost 17 people and lost properties,” he explained.