RWANDA: Country Prioritizes Reconstruction and Relocation of Survivors After Devastating Floods and Landslides Claim 131 Lives

By Paschal Norbert

KIGALI, MAY 16, 2023 (CISA)- More than 130 people have been killed and thousands displaced from their homes after heavy rainfall on May 2 and 3, caused floods and landslides in Western Rwanda.

According to Ms Marleen Masclee, Trócaire’s country director in Rwanda, the heavy rainfall “swept away everything in their path demolishing homes, cutting off roads, and wiping out crops and livestock.”

“It is one week since heavy rain flooded part of Rwanda’s western and northern provinces, and a huge clean-up operation is underway. The impact has been devastating in the region, with 131 people losing their lives and close to 6,000 homes destroyed,” wrote Ms Masclee about the effects of the devastating floods and landslides on May 11, 2023.

A week after the deadly natural ordeal, Alain Mukurarinda, the deputy spokesperson of the Rwandan government said urgent relocation of over 19,000 households living in disaster-prone areas has been prioritized as he outlined the nation’s plans for rebuilding and providing assistance to the survivors.

“What is left to do is to ensure that where the victims were previously located, in those places that were designated as high-risk zones, they are resettled,” said Mukurarinda.

“Resettlement involves screening: we identify who had land ownership prior to the floods, who owned a house, who needs compensation and who doesn’t but then after that we relocate them to homes that are not in high-risk zone areas,” he added.

According to Ms Masclee, who visited the Catholic Diocese of Nyundo to assess the damage left by the floods, the Government of Rwanda and the Ministry in charge of Emergency Management (MINEMA) are taking strong measures.

“All those in need of support are being welcomed into settlements and receiving hot meals, healthcare, mattresses, blankets and hygiene items. At the same time plans are being put in place to relocate families to safe areas away from their high-risk zones because there is a chance that the floods might happen again,” she stated.

Trócaire, in addition to providing an emergency fund of €20,000 directly to Caritas Nyundo to support their response to the devastating floods, has partnered with Tearfund and a team of three local organizations: Caritas Nyundo, Africa Evangelistic Enterprise and Duhamic Adri, and in collaboration with MINEMA and district authorities, received a START grant of €345,000 to provide additional support to 12,000 affected people.

On May 12, President Paul Kagame visited Rubavu District, one of the adversely affected regions by the floods to survey the damage caused and meet with displaced persons.

On May 15, he tweeted “Thank you to all the leaders and friends who sent condolence messages following the loss of lives from the devastating floods and landslides in Rwanda. We are grateful for your solidarity and support to the people of Rwanda. As we work to rebuild and provide assistance to the survivors, your messages are a reminder that we will overcome these challenges.”

Founded in 1973, Trócaire is an overseas development agency of the Irish Catholic Church, working in partnership with local development and humanitarian actors, to support people and communities to tackle the root causes of poverty, injustice and violence around the world.