Midimar asks for more funds to respond to disasters

Sunday October 22 2017

Heavy rains destroy homes in hilly areas.

Heavy rains destroy homes in hilly areas. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

More by this Author

Rwanda's Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs has raised the red flag over destruction of houses by heavy rains in rural areas.

The Ministry noted that there has been an increase in the number of homes being destroyed by rains, leading to demand for more resources for reconstruction.

The Ministry further noted that relying on unskilled masons as well as use of weak construction materials have seen most rural dwellers build houses with weak foundations, making them vulnerable during rainy season.

Philippe Habinshuti, head of disaster response and recovery unit at the Ministry said the increase exerted pressure on the response budget where over Rwf150 million allocated have become too little to support victims when disasters strike.

“There were pending renovations from last year, but we must highlight that this year disasters destroyed many more houses than it ever happened before. The quality of the houses is questionable but also the disasters became intensified,” he said.

Mr Habinshuti said the Ministry needs additional Rwf500 million to be able to respond to demands from over 3,400 households and tens of school infrastructures that were partially or totally destroyed by disasters in different parts of the country.

“We have engaged the Ministry of Finance and others partners. The money is most needed to buy iron sheets for recovery and if you look at the cost on the market most brands almost doubled in prices,” he added.

Haruna Nshimiyimana, housing regulations and standards division manager at Rwanda Housing Authority said that unlike in cities where building activities are strictly controlled, rural areas are yet to adopt appropriate construction methods.

“We are seeking to conduct trainings in rural areas. We are going to constitute a team of engineers to go around the country teaching people the basic housing construction guidelines for protection against natural and manmade disasters,’ he said.

The Ministry figures indicate that hydro-meteorological hazards left more than 127 houses completely destroyed and 4,620 partially destroyed from January to October this year. This left 52 people dead while 119 were injured.

The cost of damages are estimated at Rwf6.5 billion from August last year. Majority of destroyed houses in rural areas were reportedly made of mud mortar blocks or wooden sticks while at times the houses are built without drainage systems and without considering wind direction.

However, even as government pushes for improved housing, some residents in hilly areas most affected by floods and lanslides decried having no financial means to build houses that can withstand heavy rains.