Over the years and in recent times, Rwanda has been exposed to a variety of disasters such as droughts, fires, floods, earth quakes, and volcanic eruptions, wild fires HIV/AIDS and Genocide, among others. Some of these have a slow-onset while others have rapid-onset characteristics.
Slow-onset disasters are cyclical in nature, they impinge on large numbers of people and their effects can often be predicted, controlled and prevented.
Rapid-onset disasters affect fewer people; they take place at any time, may be violent and require a quick response. The Government recognizes its responsibility to minimize the impact of potential disasters.
In line with this, the GoR has put in place administrative, legal and remedial measures during periods of actual or apprehensive national danger or calamity, or in consequence of any disaster.
The Government of Rwanda formulated a policy in 2003. On July 23, 2003, a disaster management unit was established by a cabinet resolution that placed the unit under MINALOC.
In 2004 on October 27, the unit was transferred to the prime Minister’s Office. Currently, the unit was reallocated in the Ministry of Internal security following a cabinet resolution of 20th June 2008.
All the above initiatives and decisions, aimed at addressing the increasing incidences and emergencies which result into serious human distress and suffering, destruction of property and infrastructure, disruption of the environment and overall welfare of the society. Government Ministries/Departments, Agencies, Non-Governmental and Civil Society organizations, the Private Sector and International Development Partners and UN Agencies have pursued a wide range of strategies and programme to prevent and respond to disaster situations.
However, these initiatives have been undertaken in a less consistent and harmonious manner and remained re-active and uncoordinated outside a coherent policy framework.
Accordingly, the policy initiative reflects the government’s commitment towards formulating a coherent strategy in addressing disaster issues in a more pro-active manner, with focus on reduction of risk to communities and their vulnerabilities.
In reference to the said reallocation of the unit in the MININTER particularly Rwanda National Police, disaster management centre organized development workshops countrywide through training of district disaster management committees, the training began in Southern and Western provinces and later to Eastern province.
In the training workshops that brought together all district officials charged with disaster control in their respective districts including the Vice mayor in charge of social affairs, army, police, health, agriculture, In charge of FARG, and Red Cross, the training embarked on:
• The mission of disaster management centre office is:
• The general objectives of the National Disaster Management Centre include:
• The specific objectives of the Centre include:
• Phases of disaster management
Below are things to be thought of and taken into account
Q: What is a disaster?
A: It is a serious disruption of the functioning of a community or a society causing widespread human, material, economic or environmental losses which exceed the ability of the affected community or society to cope using its own resources.
Q. Has GoR given due value to the occurrence of disaster in our country?
A: It should be acknowledged that the GoR has done at least its best to initiate this office charged with disaster and emergency in Rwanda, though it has passed through metamorphosis phases so that it can be both operational at all levels.
Q: How does this office charged with disaster management work?
A: The office charged with disaster management works as a coordination office. It goes beyond its boundaries to coordinate line ministries (MINISANTE, MINADEF, MINECOFIN, MINAGRI, MINALOC etc), through the focal points under these ministries which are closely related to disaster control in order to harmonize the system.
Q: What has this office charged with disaster management so far achieved?
A: Disaster management centre office organized development workshops countrywide through training of district disaster management committees, the training began in Southern province, Western province and later Eastern province,
Q: Do local officials at district levels understand their roles and responsibilities related to disasters?
A: In an interaction with the trainees they disclosed that actually they didn’t understand their roles and responsibilities related to disasters but after training, it was proved that there is something that can be done with disaster management through mitigation and preparedness.
Q: Biggest challenge(s)?
A: The biggest challenge DMC has met is reluctance of local leaders who don’t think of any other possible control mechanism which can be applied like early warning mechanisms etc….
Q: What is the way forward with disaster management in our country?
A: There is an advocacy to sensitize local leaders and top officials to understand disaster management, through preparedness and mitigation to be put into serious account in their action plan and leave the concept of becoming reactive after being hit by disaster