Rwandan genocide survivors to get new homes

Sunday April 22 2018

FARG head offices in Remera. The body has

FARG head offices in Remera. The body has constructed 28,174 houses for genocide survivors since its establishment in 1998. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA | NATION 

IVAN R. MUGISHA
By IVAN R. MUGISHA
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After long wait, 1,014 survivors of the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi will get houses before the end of the year, the Genocide Survivors Assistance Fund (FARG) has said.

The survivors are hosted by good Samaritans or relatives, according to FARG.

However, FARG said the situation will change for the better by the end of this year as it moves to construct more houses.

“It is paramount that they get their own homes and we are working on that. We don’t call them homeless because they have been living under shelter and care by relatives or friends for long. But this sometimes brings about disagreements and their needs may be taken for granted,” Emmanuel Munyangondo, director of planning at FARG said in an interview.

“Some young survivors used to live in orphanages before they relocated to homes that can take care of them, but as they grew older they requested for their own houses.”

The body was put on the spot in 2016 when the Auditor General’s report pointed out that a contract worth Rwf280 million ($325,581) for construction of houses for genocide survivors in a model village in Muhanga District had delayed for almost a year.

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However, towards the end of last year, the houses were finally completed and handed over to survivors.

The housing challenge was also brought to the attention of FARG by the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG), which works as an advocacy group for survivors.

“We know about the housing challenge and have always alerted FARG about it,” Dr Jean Damascène Bizimana, executive secretary of CNLG said in an interview.

FARG has constructed 28,174 houses for genocide survivors since its establishment in 1998, but among its most consistent challenges remain lack of funds and the increasing cost of construction.

“We have spent over Rwf24 billion ($27.9 million) to construct homes, but the cost continues to skyrocket every year. When we started in 1998, the average cost per house was only Rwf2 million ($2,325), but now it is about Rwf12 million ($13,953),” Mr Munyangondo said.

“Paying for the education needs for survivors took a bigger chunk of our budget. But secondary school is now phasing out because most are older, so we shall have more funds saved for home construction.”

To construct new homes for homeless survivors, FARG has in its coffers Rwf12 billion ($13.9 million) and the Ministry of Finance committed to provide Rwf6 billion ($6.9 million) in the next fiscal year to address the financial gap.

Other than construction of homes, FARG aims to renovate and reconstruct over 1,000 houses sheltering genocide survivors across the country by the end of this year.
FARG also handled payments for over 2.4 million medical cases for genocide survivors since its establishment, for which it spent over Rwf15 billion ($17.4 million).
The body has also spent Rwf163 billion ($189.5 million) on education needs for survivors, ensuring that 109,615 students completed secondary education and 26,100 completed higher education.