Rwanda: Affordable Urban Housing Project Launched in Kimisagara

Eight families that lived in high risk zone have been given abode in a newly built housing block located in Nyakabingo Village of Kimisagara sector in Nyarugenge District.

This is part of the move to get residents out of harm's way without necessarily having to move them from their land.

The project dubbed 8in1 Affordable Housing Demonstration Block was designed and implemented by Skat Consulting Ltd in partnership with Rwanda Housing Authority.

The entire housing block, which was constructed at a cost of Rwf100m according to officials, was built using locally made materials.

Other partners in the project include the City of Kigali and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.

(R-L) Vice mayor of the City of Kigali Parfait Busabizwa, ambassador of Switzerland to Rwanda Dr. Ralf Heckner, State minister in Ministry of Local Governance Cyriaque Harerimana and mayor of the City of Kigali Marie-Chantal Rwakazina officially inaugurate an 8 in 1 housing model in Kimisagara to be used in slum upgrading yesterday. / Nadege Imbabazi

The beneficiary families, on their part, contributed land where the new block was set up.

According to beneficiaries, with the heavy rains projected to strike in a matter of few weeks, projects like this are particularly relevant and much appreciated.

They say some have lost houses to recent mudslides while other properties have been swept away by floods, even though no life had been lost to disasters from the area.

They attest that of late, they could not sleep well thinking that anytime, heavy rains may come and sweep away their homes.

Marie-Yvonne Uwambayingabire is a mother of three whose family is one of those that were allocated a unit from the new block after they ceded their land.

"When city officials came to us with the proposal and explained us well how we would benefit, I immediately jumped on the opportunity and released our land because of the conditions we were living in.

We used to live in a three bedroom house but we hardly slept because we knew that any time the house would be swept away by floods as it happened to some of our neighbours previously," she said.

From the 8in1 block, Uwambayingabire's family got a fully equipped three bedroom apartment, to which she said she still does not believe the house is hers, adding that she can't explain how grateful she is for the government and partners.

According to the City of Kigali, this building is being considered a model for a cheaper and unique housing in dense, urban environments.

It is para-seismic in nature and therefore suitable for difficult topography like the hilly and slanted neighbourhood that Kimisagara is.

Speaking at the launch of the bloc, the Minister of State for Socio-Economic Development, Cyriaque Harelimana argued that this project is a pioneer of government's long term plan of working together with different partners including citizens to create more affordable urban settlements without moving people from their land.

He said that the government's will is to have all citizens settled in good housing but without population will and support this can't not be successful.

"When you compare with their previous homes, anyone can easily notice a big difference. Apart from the beautiful architectural design, this block is strong and durable and can resist to climate disasters.

"We thank the residents who gave out their land to make set up the new block and ask others who will be approached in the following projects to join in big numbers," he said.

On the other hand, the Swiss Ambassador to Rwanda, Ralf Heckner said that the project will strengthen his country's longstanding commitment to support Rwanda in developing a strong construction sector value chain that can generate employment and contribute to building safe and habitable cities for future generation.

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