The Special Guarantee Fund (SGF) will, before the end of this month, compensate residents of Rwimbogo Sector in Gatsibo District whose crops were destroyed by stray elephants last year. Even those who lost their loved ones to the wildlife will be compensated, officials said.
In an interview with The New Times, the Director General of the Fund, Bernardin Ndashimye, said that the compensation follows a recent decision by the government to transfer the responsibility of compensating victims of wild animals from Rwanda Development Board (RDB) to SGF.
SGF was initially known as the Automobile Guarantee Fund, and was only charged with compensation of victims hit or injured by unidentified vehicles.
“Our core business was mainly compensating the victims of motor accidents but we have expanded our services even to people whose agricultural products were destroyed by wild animals and those who lost their lives to the wildlife,” Ndashimye explained.
According to the official, SGF will spend over Rwf15 million to compensate the residents of Rwimbogo, adding that the agency will pay damages to other people in Kayonza and Nyagatare districts, whose farms were destroyed by wild animals that had strayed from Akagera National Park.
He said that some of them, in the latter case, even lost their lives to wild animals such as crocodiles and hippos.
Ndashimye said that a team of employees from SGF was dispatched to all the affected farms in Rwimbogo to ascertain how much should be paid in compensation.
He said his institution is just awaiting a ministerial order, expected this week, to sanction the compensation process in Rwimbogo Sector.
He asked the local authorities to institute a strong partnership with the institution to help expedite the compensation process.
“Even though we cannot bring back those who lost their lives to wild animals, we have to compensate the bereaved families because we attach great value to human life,” Ndashimye said.
He noted that the Fund will carry out a sensitisation campaign across the country aimed to explain to the public reporting about procedures one has to go through in the event that their crops have been destroyed by stray animals from parks.
The official said that SGF will receive five percent of the total proceeds from tourism, every year, to help finance its operations.