Rwanda: New Measures Mitigate Flood Disasters in Virunga Mountains

13 September 2023

The Rwanda Water Resources Board (RWB) says there has been a significant decrease in flood-related damages in Musanze and Burera districts, where critical gullies have been constructed as part of a comprehensive flood management initiative.

For years, the Virunga Mountains region has grappled with the devastating consequences of heavy rainfall, resulting in damage to schools, health facilities, homes, crops, and even lives in volcanic regions. However, in 2019, the Rwandan government launched a series of interventions aimed at mitigating the impact of these floods.

The region's reputation for high rainfall often led to water overflowing due to inadequate infrastructure, including the absence of retention and detention ponds.

However officials say the ongoing project designed to address volcanic floods is yielding promising results.

The project spans across Burera, Musanze, Nyabihu, and Rubavu districts, all of which border the Volcano National Park. According to the Water Resources Board, out of the 22 main gullies identified in the volcano area, eight critical gullies have been completed in Musanze and Burera districts.

Davis Bugingo, the Flood Management and Water Storage Development Division Manager at RWB, expressed confidence in the effectiveness of the gullies as a flood containment measure.

"Damages in Musanze and Burera have significantly decreased due to the construction of these gullies." He said.

Four gullies have been constructed in Susa, Muhe, Nyabyungo upstream, and Cyabirengo in Musanze district, with additional gullies in Muhabura, Mbandana, Nyabutoshwa, and Nyarubande Upstream in Burera district.

Bugingo emphasized, "Currently, damages from floods have considerably diminished in all constructed gullies, as observed during recent heavy rains in this area."

Jeannette Mukamanzi, Executive Secretary of Kaguhu Cell in Kinigi Sector, Musanze district, highlighted ongoing efforts to prevent flooding caused by heavy rains at the local level. She urged residents to create three-meter holes filled with stones to mitigate the impact of rainwater.

Local residents Angelique Nyiragaju and Emmaneul Mugabo expressed optimism about the project's ability to reduce floods from the Volcano National Park and protect their Irish potato crops. Mugabo added, "We're hopeful that this project will curb floods from the [Volcano] National Park and prevent further damage to our Irish potatoes."

The Ministry of Environment, in collaboration with technical support from RWB, is currently conducting an assessment to determine the overall extent of damage caused by floods in the Virunga Mountains.

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