Philippe Habinshuti, the Director for the Response and Recovery Unit at the Ministry of Emergency Management (MINEMA), has disclosed that there is a plan to build decent houses for 14,051 households displaced by disasters.
He was speaking during the virtual dissemination of March to May 2021 rainy season forecast and the presentation of the performance of the previous season, which recorded a number of disaster losses.
“In the framework of disaster response and recovery, we will build houses for those families across the country whose houses were destroyed by disasters and relocate them from high risk zones,” he said.
We have to build houses for 11,696 households, he added, saying that 2,355 households will be offered plots of land in safe zones because they can build houses for themselves.
He did not divulge details of the budget.
Habinshuti said the figures of those to get decent houses were affected in the different past years by disasters.
According to official data by this ministry, at least 8,013 houses, 95 classrooms, four health centres, 151 roads, 102 bridges, 22 churches, 26 water supply systems, 96 electricity transmission lines, 16 administrative offices, six markets and one factory were damaged while 3,491 livestock died owing to disasters last year.
The data shows that 5,968.653 hectares of crops and 458 hectares of forests were damaged by disasters while 290 people lost their lives as 398 were injured in 2020.
In 2019, the report shows, at least 271 disasters destroyed 5,687 houses while 10,610.45 hectares of crops were damaged.
Disasters also damaged 203 classrooms, 30 roads and 50 churches, 40 bridges and 21 administrative offices, six water supply systems and 72 transmission lines, four markets and two factories while 2,979 livestock died in the same year.
Global warming fuelling disaster increase
According to Habinshuti, the losses that befell in January and February this year due to heavy rains were unusual compared to the same period in the previous years.
“The disaster losses have increased by 50 per cent compared to the past three years. From January to now, at least 34 people lost their lives while 76 were injured. Damaged roads, housing units, among others, are twice the value of losses incurred during last torrential rains,” he said.
According to Anthony Twahirwa, Division Manager of Weather/Climate Services and Applications at Meteo Rwanda, the unusual weather disasters have been fuelled by climate change.
“For example January and February rains this year are unusual. We used to experience short dry seasons in the same previous periods, but this year we experienced heavy rains that killed people, animals and destroyed properties. This is due to global warming,” he said.
He explained that the year 2020 was the hottest year on record.
“The last six years -from 2015 to 2020- have been the warmest years on record and they are blamed for driving and increasing some of the climate extremes,” he said.
March-May weather forecast
Twahirwa said that from March to May there will be enough rain but in some parts rainfall is expected to have a slight tendency of increase or decrease in different areas.
Rainfall between 350 and 450 millimetres is expected in Eastern province, Kigali city, most parts of Gicumbi and Rulindo districts, Southeastern of Gakenke in Northern province, eastern Kamonyi, Ruhango, Nyanza and Gisagara districts in Southern province.
Rainfall between 450 and 450 millimetres is expected in Rutsiro, the southern part of Rubavu, most parts of Ngororero and western parts of Karongi in the western province.
Rains between 450 and 550 millimetres are expected in Musanze and Burera districts, remaining parts of Gakenke, Rulindo and Gicumbi in Northern Province, Muhanga and Huye, the western part of Gisagara, Nyanza, Ruhango and most parts of Nyamagabe and Nyaruguru districts in southern province, most parts of Nyabihu and Nyamesheke districts, northern Rubavu and western part of Rusizi in the western province.
Rainfall between 550 and 600 millimetres is expected in western parts of Nyamagabe and Nyaruguru in the southern province, eastern parts of Nyamasheke and Rusizi in the western province.
“One millimetre equals one litre of water on soil. This means that this rain might cause problems in some areas. Public, private and individuals should take strategic measures to minimize the impacts associated with extreme events of weather and climate,” he said.
Charles Bucagu, the Deputy Director-General of Agriculture Research and Technology Transfer at Rwanda Agricultural and Animal Resources Development Board said they will use the climate information to better plan for season B.
“We are going to assess priority crops considering the expected rains. The rains in the eastern province might be the solution for farmers but might damage crops in western and Northern Province,” he said.