The government will pursue a plan to build exemplary housing units in planned settlement sites across the country and has allocated Rwf15 billion this fiscal year in line with the ambitious project, an official at the Rwanda Housing Authority (RHA) has said.
Augustin Kampayana, the head of human settlement, planning, and development at RHA, told The New Times yesterday that construction of planned settlements, commonly known as model villages, is the way to go in relocating people living in high risk zones and promoting proper dwelling.
Rwf22 billion was allocated in the past fiscal year to kick-start the construction of model villages in all the country's 30 districts.
Kampayana said the money will boost districts' efforts to settle at least 30,000 households that are currently set up in scattered settlements and high risk zones.
The official said some 40,000 households from such areas were relocated and properly settled during the last fiscal year 2016/17 when the Government initiated the construction of at least one model village in every district.
"Rwf15 billion allocated for the current fiscal year 2017/18 is peanuts but our message to the people is that they should always try to use their own means to relocate to existing planned settlements. That leaves the Government with the opportunity to focus on availing basic infrastructure to the planned settlements," he said.
The money allocated in the current fiscal year will be used to increase the number of housing units in different model villages whose construction was kicked off in every district across the country last year, providing basic infrastructure like water and electricity in the existing villages, as well as essential amenities like nursery schools and community halls, among others.
The efforts will help address the issue of scattered settlements across the country, which is sometimes an obstacle to fast development of residents in communities and a potential cause of disasters in case some settlements are set up in high risk zones such as swamps and steep slopes.
"The more people live in planned settlements, the less risks we will have when it comes to settlement-related disasters," Kampayana said.
Local officials have welcomed the government's continued funding for the construction of model villages, with engineers and leaders in Rutsiro and Ngororero districts revealing that the money will help them implement projects that are already on-going and needed a boost.
In Rutsiro, a portion of the fund will help provide water and electricity, an early childhood development centre, a community road, and two additional four-in-one housing units in Kivumu Sector's Karungu model village.
"Our model villages need extension; not all the plots are built up and not all the needed infrastructure are there yet. We need to equip them with water, kraals, main halls for community events, and many other amenities. Such funds from the government are always a boost for us," said Innocent Gakuru, the vice mayor for economic affairs in Rutsiro District.
The Mayor of Ngororero District, Godfrey Ndayambaje, told The New Times that the Government funding in the current fiscal year will mostly be used to build new model villages in the district.
"When model villages are built, they are mostly handed to vulnerable citizens. If we can build more model villages, it can reduce the number of people who live in high risk zones," he said, adding that his district will get funding to build homes for 40 households in the current fiscal year.
Officials at RHA have estimated that about 260,000 households across the country have been set up in scattered settlements and should ideally be relocated to planned settlements where access to essential infrastructure is crucial for fast and inclusive development.
Under the country's Vision 2020, the Government has predicted that at least 70 per cent of Rwandans in rural areas will be living in planned settlements by the year 2020.
The current rate is 55.8 per cent according to the most recent national household survey, the fourth Integrated Household Living Conditions Survey, which was published in September 2015.