Floods, landslides, and lightning strikes are among the major causes of disasters across the country, where they have claimed 1,289 lives and injured more than 2,000 individuals in six years.
The revelation was made by Prime Minister Dr. Edouard Ngirente during his presentation on Rwanda’s disaster response to parliamentarians on Friday, June 30, 2023.
During the period from 2017 to 2023, disasters also caused significant destruction, including 51,000 houses, over 1,900 hectares of land, and more than 14,800 small livestock deaths. Dr. Ngirente emphasized that these figures are being disclosed to encourage Rwandans to strengthen their efforts in preserving the environment as a proactive measure against disasters.
Over the course of six years, disasters resulted in the destruction of more than 1,300 classrooms, 449 roads, 484 bridges, 232 water distribution systems, and 750 electricity transmission lines. Consequently, the government has allocated a portion of the annual budget to repair damages, assist affected citizens in returning to normalcy, and renovate infrastructure.
Additionally, there were 132 fire incidents within the same period, resulting in the destruction of 117 houses, five factories, and four markets. These incidents caused the loss of two lives and injured four individuals. Wind incidents occurred over 44 times, unroofing 3,600 houses and 397 classrooms, while lightning claimed the lives of 364 people and injured 1,020.
Premier Ngirente also highlighted the recent disasters that occurred in early May 2023. During that period, floods and landslides resulted in the death of 135 people in a single night across Western, Northern, and Southern provinces. The disasters also destroyed 6,000 houses and devastated crops on 3,100 hectares of land. Besides, over 4,100 livestock, including cattle and small livestock, perished, and more than 20,000 people were displaced.
The recent disasters caused damage to infrastructures, including 32 classrooms, 55 latrines, 83 school fences, and 26 water reservoirs, among others. Premier Ngirente estimated that the losses incurred during the May disasters amounted to Rwf220. It is estimated that over Rwf400 billion is required to repair the damages caused by these disasters, although the final amount is yet to be determined.
In response to these disasters, more than 20,000 displaced individuals from the most affected districts, including Rubavu, Nyabihu, Rutsiro, Karongi, Ngororero, Burera, and Gakenke, were accommodated in over 93 sites. The affected individuals received emergency support, including sanitary items, clothing, food, healthcare services, and early childhood centers.
Furthermore, over 3,200 families were provided with rental fees for three months, students from affected families received school fees for the third term, and the government committed to doing the same for the first term of the upcoming school year, starting in September. As a result of the destruction, over 3,000 families received newly built shelters, while more than 300 houses underwent renovation.
To enhance preparedness, measures have been implemented to provide regular training on emergency response to employees of the Ministry of Emergency Management (MINEMA), alongside an increase in personnel.
Several projects have been initiated to address the issue, including one valued at over Rwf50 billion aimed at tree planting, with more than 40,000 hectares already covered by crop-friendly trees. Additionally, a project worth Rwf400 billion is being considered to mitigate disasters caused by rainwater from Virunga National Park.
Prime Minister Ngirente also revealed that additional infrastructure projects are underway to mitigate flooding along the banks of River Sebeya.