Northern Province begins drive to support dwellers of high risk zones

Residents from the Northern Province living in disaster-risk zones have been advised to relocate to risk-free areas by the end of the year.
Children play after heavy rains. Over 80,000 households have been earmarked for evacuation countrywide according to officials.  New Times/File.
Children play after heavy rains. Over 80,000 households have been earmarked for evacuation countrywide according to officials. New Times/File.

Residents from the Northern Province living in disaster-risk zones have been advised to relocate to risk-free areas by the end of the year.

The call was made on Saturday by various leaders during a special community work (Umuganda) aimed at mobilising people to move from those areas.

The community work was also characterised by clearing land, digging foundations for houses, making bricks and gathering stones to pave way for construction of houses for people from high risk zones. Residents were urged to unite and build houses through community works.

According to Dr Vincent Biruta, the Minister for Education, who addressed residents of Burera District during the Umuganda, it was in the interest of residents to move from high risk zones.

“This is a government programme to avoid unnecessary deaths and loss of property. As we enter into construction phase, we should continue helping one another and I believe nothing is impossible once we join efforts,” Biruta, also an advisor to the district said.

Loss of property, lives

There are about 1,895 families that need to be evacuated in the Northern Province. Burera district has over 550 families living in designated high risk zones while  Musanze district has over 400. There are about 190 in Gakenke and 173 in Gikumbi that need to be evacuated. Rulindo has 582 families living in high risk zones.

Residents expressed the need for the government to encourage people to evacuate saying that most have previously not only lost property, but also family members.

“Mudslides claimed my two children while another one suffered severe injuries. Relocating from this place is a good thing,” said Bazile Nsabirabanzi, one of the residents of a high risk zone.

Heavy rains, winds, landslides, floods, and thunderstorms and lightning are the main causes of these calamities.

It is estimated that government will meet 30 per cent of the budget to relocate these families while the 70 per cent of the activities including construction will be provided by residents through community works (Umuganda).

The areas regarded as high risk zones include households in steep slopes, in swamps, or other neighbouring areas that can be affected by the nearest risky zones but the pending evacuation of residents in these areas has sparked some concerns, rather than excitement.

Over 80,000 households were earmarked for evacuation countrywide, according to officials.

Disasters claimed 97 lives in one year, according to recent Ministry of Disaster Preparedness and Refugees affairs statistics.

In the same period, 5468 houses were either damaged or demolished, while 3048.1 hectares of land, including crops were destroyed.

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