Residents from the volcanoes region in Northern and Western provinces can now breathe a sigh of relief after the government launched Rwf35 billion project meant to sustainably control the frequent floods that would claim people's lives, destroy infrastructure, people's homes and farmlands.
According to officials from the Rwanda Water and Forestry Authority (RWFA), one of the project implementers, the project will cost Rwf35 billion and will be executed in phases between three and four years.
The groundbreaking ceremony for the project's first phase took place over the weekend in Rugarama Sector in Burera district and this phase will cost Rwf1.2billion with an implementation period of one year.
This phase will be implemented in the districts of Burera and Musanze that are highly prone to floods from the volcanoes and infrastructure, such as roads and buildings are wiped away in the districts by regular flash-floods.
During the first phase, priority actions will be taken into consideration; and these are downstream confluence of Muhe and Susa streams from Musanze district, it will also include constructing open channels on sub-catchment of Muhabura, Mbandama and Nyarubande from Burera district.
Officiating at the launch, the Minister for Environment Jeanne d'Arc Mujawamariya revealed that that the project was part of pledges made by President Paul Kagame to residents of the two provinces during the 2017 presidential campaign.
"This project to sustainably control frequent floods from volcanoes will help you live a safer life. As the Head of State assured to you the water from volcanoes should not be a threat, should rather be a solution," the minister told thousands of Burera residents.
"We started with more strategic areas so as to curb previous calamities which include destruction of schools, your homes, health centres and other infrastructures. We believe that all those challenges will be a thing of the past, this is a friendship pact that you now have with the President; that's the main reason you ought to own this project for sustainability," she added.
Residents would primarily be employed in almost all the works of the multi-billion project, according to officials.
"We are not outsourcing companies, we are rather focusing on empowering the local residents for them to be able to mitigate effects of floods," Prime Ngabonziza, the Director-General of RWFA told The New Times in a recent interview.
Speaking at the launch, Northern Province Governor, Jean Marie Vianney Gatabazi noted that besides curbing the floods, the project will foster the wellbeing of citizens as they will be generating some incomes from being employed in the project.
"We have particularly asked contractors who won the tender in this project to mobilise their employees to pay for community-based health insurance premiums; our people will as well be able to make some savings for the better of their future," He noted
Burera residents who had been victims of frequent floods from volcanoes welcomed the project stressing that it restored hope of life as opposed to previously where they would not believe in the future.
"I lost two kids in separate flood incidents, I have been hopeless since then, however, I am now optimistic for a promising future thanks to this project as floods will never attack my family again," noted Elvanie Nyiramana, one the residents from Rugarama sector in Burera district.
Frederick Habanabakize echoed Nyiramana's sentiments saying that this will improve yields from their Irish potato farms.
"Year on year, I would not harvest due to frequent floods which have been washing away my farm."