10 October 2018

Rwanda: Forecaster Predicts Stormy Rains This Week

Heavy rains mixed with violent winds which could lead to floods and landslides are expected in some parts of the country between October 9 and 13, according to latest forecasts by Rwanda Meteorology Agency.

The bad weather is particularly expected in districts prone to disasters, namely Musanze, Gicumbi, Gakenke and Burera in Northern Province, Nyabihu, Rubavu, Rusizi and Nyamasheke in Western Province, as well as Nyamagabe and Nyaruguru in Southern Province.

The rains are estimated to be between 20 and 30 millimetres (mm) per day.

According to experts, 10mm of rain per square metre (of an area) is equivalent to 10 litres per square meter, which means 30mm correspond to much more water than that on the same space.

Speaking to The New Times, Mbati Mathieu Mugunga, a Senior Forecaster at the agency, said that daily (repeated) rains of that level were not common in the previous years, explaining that when it rains at that magnitude everyday over a period of time it becomes disastrous.

"Such rain can cause disasters like landslides and flash floods (rapid flooding of an area). That is why we have warned people so that they are not caught off guard," he said.

Speaking to The New Times, Gakenke District mayor, Deogratias Nzamwita said they have started sharing the information from the weather service among the people in the district so that they get prepared against the predicted severe weather.

Gakenke suffered the deadliest consequences of severe weather conditions in the country in recent years when, on May 8, 2016, landslides and floods induced by heavy rains killed 34 people and left hundreds of families homeless.

Nzamwita told The New Times that since the incident, about 2,000 households were relocated from high risk zones to relatively safe residential sites in various sectors in the district, and only 'few' need to move from hazardous living places.

"Most of the people who lived in disaster high risk zones were relocated, we also told people to strengthen their roofs," he said adding that in case of unexpected disaster effects, people were ready to support one another.

He said that they feel relatively prepared to mitigate the effects of disasters that may be induced by the expected heavy rains.

"We are also controlling erosion through terraces, digging counter erosion ditches, and planting anti-erosion grasses, among other measures to mitigate all such risks," he said.

From January to June 2018, disasters induced by heavy rains (including floods, landslide and lightning ) across the country killed 222 people, destroyed 14,491 houses and 8,978 hectares of crops, 49 bridges, and claimed 754 livestock, according to statistics from the Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugees (MIDIMAR).

Overall, about 44,000 households in high risk zones identified by the Rwanda Housing Authority were to be relocated but the number has gone higher as a result of the recent disaster cases countrywide.

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