Rwanda Focus (Kigali)

10 December 2012

Rwanda: Midimar Focuses On Fast Disaster Communication System

The Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs (Midimar) is battling to strengthen its disaster communication system so that concerned officials can take preventive measures early.

Justin Kayira, the ministry's director of disaster management and program coordination, says inefficient communication system couldn't facilitate them reacting early on the anticipated hazards or disasters occurred.

He made the comments yesterday in Bugesera district during the official launch of training of officers in charge of social affairs and agronomists at sector level about a new disaster communication system that will help the ministry to gather information for better disaster management.

"Sometimes we used to get the information late like after two or three days," Kayira said. "This system will help us to get the information early; then make quick intervention."

The training is targeting all officers in charge of social affairs and agronomists from all 416 sectors of the country and vice mayors in charge of social affairs. The training comes after the officials at sector level were given mobile phones few months ago.

Kayira explained that the trained officials will be sending coded information through SMS to the server housed by Midimar. After getting the information, the server will decode and send the information to concerned officials so that decisions can be taken on how to prevent or intervene in the aftermath of the disaster.

"The use of the system is to help getting information before disasters occur and then take preventive measures early," Kayira said.

The communication system comes at a time when a couple of disasters have ravaged the country in the the past. For instance, the ministry registered 60 dead persons due to different types of disaster in a period time between January and September this year. In the same time of the year, 1,920 houses have been demolished, 2387 ha of crops ruined while 19 classrooms, 11 roads, 8 church buildings, 5 bridges and 4 governmental offices were also destroyed in the same time.

In Bugesera district alone, heavy winds destroyed around 200 houses and ravaged hectors of crops few months ago.

Louis Rwagaju, the mayor of Bugesera district said they are making a lot of effort in raising awareness about disaster preparedness and consolidating preventive measures such as increasing forests that would help in controlling heavy winds. He also mentioned that they advise local people to build their houses with adequate materials that can make their houses more resistant to such disasters.

In the meantime, Kayira said some workers from all concerned institutions such as meteorology service, REMA and Midimar have been trained in early warning system.

"I would say that the body has not yet enough means, but they are struggling to increase their capacity in terms of modern equipment and training of staff," Kayira pointed out. "We hope to be able to provide early warning services in the future as the developed world do."

The training, which started in Bugesera, Burera, Rulindo, Rutsiro and Nyabihu and will spread to other districts countrywide, will end by December 28.

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