13 October 2017

Rwanda: Call for Joint Efforts to Mitigate Disasters

Photo: New Times
The area where some houses were flooded in Nyabihu (file photo).

There is need for concerted efforts to mitigate various forms of disasters, officials have said.

They made the call yesterday at a news briefing ahead of celebrations of the International Day for Disaster Reduction, due to be marked today in Ngeruka Sector, Bugesera District.

Addressing the media, Jeanne d'Arc Debonheur, the minister for disaster management and refugee affairs, said that the country is prone to disasters that claim lives of people and damaging properties, which calls for joint efforts if the trend is to be averted.

This year alone, the minister said, disasters, such as floods triggered by heavy rains, killed 52 and injured 119 others countrywide.

Up to 127 houses were totally destroyed and 4,620 half-destroyed.

At least 2,014 hectares of different crops have been destroyed and 125 livestock killed, among others.

She added that nine roads were destroyed while 23 bridges were washed away.

Over 160 classroom blocks were destroyed, five water channels blocked, 68 electrical poles uprooted while 16 administrative facilities were destroyed, with 27 churches as well as two health facilities being flattened.

The minister also announced Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) Week aimed at increasing public awareness about the negative impact of disasters on social, economic, and environmental development.

Besides, the Week would enhance awareness and skills of people in mitigating hydro-meteorological hazards and encourage every individual and population to take part in building disaster resilient community, according to the officials.

"Disasters continue to kill many people in various parts of the country and we dedicate this week to raise public awareness on everyone's responsibility to mitigate disasters and prevent their impact," she said.

"In partnership with local leaders we will focus on various activities to protect environment and improve construction efforts, we will build houses for people who were relocated from high risk zones, fix roofing, plant trees and create new water canals," she added.

Housing to be improved

Officials from Rwanda Housing Authority (RHA) said they are putting in more efforts to encourage people involved in infrastructure development to be professional and avoid using substandard materials which leave infrastructure such as houses, and bridges destroyed.

According to Haruna Nshimiyimana, the division manager of housing regulations and standards at RHA, disasters would be prevented if rules and regulations in construction were observed.

"We need to actively educate the public and specifically people involved in construction to observe rules and regulations in construction by using standardised materials as well as to follow the master plan in their respective areas," he said.

Nshimiyimana said that the Government considers relocating over 3,900 households who are poor from high risk zones while those with means can do their best to move from those dangerous areas.

Nshimiyimana also asked the public to embrace rainwater harvesting.

The public should also embrace green construction and ensure that they have gardens in their homes instead of paving the whole compound which prevents water penetration and this can cause disasters.

This is the seventh time Rwanda marks the Disaster Risk Reduction.

Internationally, the day will be marked under the theme "Home Safe Home," while nationally the theme is "Disaster Free Home, Our Aim and Responsibility."


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