2 May 2017

Rwanda: Modern Settlements - How Far Have We Gone?

Photo: Timothy Kisambira/The New Times
Some of the houses at Ntebe IDP model village in Rwamagana district.
analysis

Works the Government pledged in line with scaling up the construction of model villages in the country before the end of the current financial year are nearly halfway through, with several houses under construction at sites that will be turned into modern settlements equipped with basic infrastructure.

In line with the plan to have at least one settlement site in every district, which the Rwanda Housing Authority (RHA) launched in October last year, construction of modern settlements dubbed 'model villages' is underway in every district across the country.

The Rural Settlement Division Manager at the RHA, Protais Mpayimana, told The New Times last week that works to prepare sites in all the 30 districts for the construction of the modern homes and building a few initial homes there have reached 40 per cent of completion.

The Government's plan is to have 30 sites, one in each district, by the end of the current fiscal year in June.

"The ongoing activities will be accomplished as planned because there are institutions in charge of providing every service required, whether it's water, roads, electricity, or any other amenities," Mpayimana said, revealing that the Government has earmarked Rwf22 billion for the project.

Under the plan, 312 four-in-one units and 10 two-in-one units for 1,268 households will be constructed before the end of the current financial year in June, Mpayimana said.

He added that each district is committed to construct one model village with all necessary infrastructure that the population needs in daily life without going out of their settlement site.

But all the components of the infrastructure development needed in the settlements will not be accomplished by June although the basics such as water, electricity, and roads will have been already set up, the official said.

The completion of all components to be built in the villages will be split into phases spread over a period of three years after which the homes will be up, the official said.

Residents upbeat

In Rutsiro District's Kivumu Sector, residents of Karungu Village are already excited about their new modern homes, which they were told will be equipped with water and electricity and accommodate those who already live in the area while new residents will also move in from high risk zones.

"The modern houses will be really good because they will be provided with water and electricity which we need," said Jean-Bosco Manizabayo, a father of four.

Manizabayo and other residents are already working on the Karungu site, preparing the foundation where two four units in one building will be constructed, which they hope will be completed before the current fiscal year ends.

Jeanine Nyiraneza, his neighbour, agrees with him that they need decent homes but she also figures she will need a piece of land nearby the new house in order to grow some food for her family.

"I wish that after getting my apartment I am given money so I can buy a new plot for farming," she said.

Mpayimana said that the residents will be happy with the compensation they will get from the expropriation process in order to set up the new settlements on their land as long as local officials respect the instructions given to them with respect to the expropriation law.

Officials in the Western Province district messed up the expropriation instructions from the central government for the project and gave the residents little money for their land but Mpayimana said the issues found on the site will be urgently redressed.

"The idea is to help residents get a better life in whatever case. Instances where citizens are losers in this process are not acceptable," he said.

As part of modernising rural settlements, RHA has asked every district in the country to set aside at least one planned settlement site, where the government can build homes for indigent people living in high-risk zones and well-off residents can build their own homes there too.

Model villages are modern settlement sites complete with essential amenities like roads, water, electricity, schools, health posts, and local markets.

Residents will also seek to optimise the use of their land, with the places provided with essential things like shared cowsheds and land for planting their crops while also having a place to do off-farm jobs such as markets and crafts workshops.

The model is what the Government has described as Integrated Development Programme (IDP), which aims for the construction of semi-detached houses and was found to be one of better concepts that allow for the accommodation of the population in a good environment in respect to the management of the natural resources.

"We call them model villages because they have integrated complete programmes like land sharing, infrastructure development as well as social and environmental protection plans. It's the only way we can have decent rural settlement and socio-economic development," said Augustin Kampayana, the acting director-general of RHA.

Under Vision 2020, the Government envisages 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.

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INSIDE THE MODEL VILLAGE

Under the plan, 312 four-in-one units and 10 two-in-one units for 1,268 households will be constructed before the end of the current financial year in June, Mpayimana said.

The pillars of IDP model villages include roads, four in one houses that maximise land with durable construction materials, water, electricity, market, school, cowsheds and playgrounds.

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