Housing the displaced remains a challenge as rains approach

Tuesday September 8 2020


Several families displaced by disasters this year still find the going tough months later after failing to secure alternative plots or build shelters in areas designated as safer by the authorities. Photo | Cyril Ndegeya 

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Several families displaced by the April-June rain disasters are yet to find new permanent homes in areas designated as safe by the authorities.

Local government entities had temporarily housed thousands of families in school and church facilities as they made plans for land in designated planned settlement sites also known as Imidugudu, and put up shelters.

But with many having lost properties, and having no money, hopes of recovered livelihoods is fading away by the day.

Rwanda Today has learnt that efforts by government to house the vulnerable among them decelerated due to the coronavirus pandemic that not only diverted authorities’ attention but also disrupted pace of interventions across the seven districts worst hit by the rains.

“It is not everyone who has land in Umudugudu site, so one has to buy or seek plot owners who are willing to be compensated with arable land in a different location.

That has not been easy because most here own fragmented land parcels in high risk areas and most were washed away by the floods,” said Jeremie Ntibakundiye, who heads the family in Shyira sector of Nyabihu district, where an estimated 280 families are still stranded months after heavy rains destroyed their homes.


Placide Bizimana, Shyira Sector Executive Secretary said the districts with the help of the central government and partners would cater for the housing needs for families with genuine concerns, although he did not give the timelines.

In Ngororero District with 2,247 displaced families, more than 1,432 families still struggle to find somewhere they can call home months later.

District Mayor Godefroid Ndayambaje admits that plot acquisition in designated sites is complicated but the district intervened for “genuinely” vulnerable families to acquire plots and put up homes using the district budget.

“We are doing everything possible to have them housed by end of this dry season,” he said.

Rwanda Today learnt that besides several districts making sure the homeless families leave the school and church facilities, neighbours are hosting a big number of those with limited means to rent or build, while a section is staying in accommodation rented with the help of either the government or well-wishers.

The homeless families and thousands still trapped in areas deemed prone to disasters in Kigali City, secondary cities and rural districts are expected to exacerbate the housing problem when September-November rains hit again.

Nyarugenge district, where official statistics indicate that April-June rains destroyed 323 houses now has estimated 20,176 families still trapped in areas deemed prone to disasters.

Ministry of Emergency Management had in May told Rwanda Today it was carrying out a post disaster needs assessment for a clear roadmap towards addressing the homelessness issue.

However, when contacted for updates, it indicated that the only available details were about ongoing recovery activities but did not provide the data by press time.