Rwanda strives to alleviate suffering of flood victims

By Xinhua
On 16 June 2023 at 12:30

For families living in the Rubavu district in western Rwanda, one of the areas that were hit by flooding and landslides recently, the disasters brought uncertainty to their future. Fortunately, authorities are taking action to help local people resume normal life.

At least 135 people were killed and 110 others injured in the disasters triggered by heavy rains last month in the East African country. More than 20,000 people were displaced after 5,963 houses were destroyed.

Clementine Mukanoheri, a mother of two, said it was the second time in five years that the disasters had wrecked her life.

"In March 2018, my two children were rescued from floods in the same village near River Sebeya. I think all the survivors are scared to go back to that same village, and what we want is government support," she said.

Justine Uwababyeyi, a resident of the Nyundo sector in the Rubavu district, lost her husband and three children when their house collapsed in the heavy rains.

When their house collapsed, Uwababyeyi and her husband heard the children crying for help, but they could not even help themselves under the rubble.

One of her sons escaped unhurt and managed to run out of the house into the pounding rains to call for help. "When the rescue teams arrived, my husband had already passed away," she said.

The rescue team found the bodies of her husband and three other children under the rubble.

After Uwababyeyi got out of the hospital, local leaders assisted her with shelter and basic items. Her life was miserable as her husband was the family’s sole breadwinner.

John Hakizimana, another resident whose house was also destroyed, recalled the horrifying night. The flooding was too intense after the Sebeya River burst its banks, making it very difficult for people to cross over.

"Escaping from the floods on that fateful night was far from easy. Nobody is considering returning to reside in that unfavorable location," he said.

Oreste Tuganeyezu, director of Gisenyi Hospital, said many people who survived floods had health issues, but medics have been doing their best to treat them. "We have about 25 mothers who have so far given birth here in the site and are given all the necessary support," he said.

The hospital offers free medical care for all the displaced people including those without health insurance. Health personnel visit patients at their respective shelters to offer them treatment free of charge.

Meanwhile, at the Gihira settlement site in the Rubavu district, children of flood victims are provided with daycare facilities.

Deogratias Nzabonimpa, acting mayor of Rubavu district, said local authorities are taking action to prevent such catastrophe from affecting residents in the future.

"Several measures have been undertaken such as constructing radical terraces, planting trees and relocating people living in high-risk zones," said Nzabonimpa. "By putting together all our efforts, we shall overcome issues of flooding and landslides, I believe that positive results will be attained as it has been done in recent years."

One of houses destroyed by landslides in Western Province of Rwanda.