Heavy rains that are pounding different parts of the country have led to a trail of destruction, including deaths with thousands of families still stuck in high risk zones.
While the weatherman has warned that the rains being experienced after period of dry spell will be above normal, families in some zones are facing the danger of heavy floods and landslides.
The situation is worse for farmers whose crops were destroyed by floods after a long period of dry spell.
The meteorological department recently issued via warning that the remaining months of the year would see above-normal rainfall, noting that “impacts related to accumulation of rains such as soil erosion, flooding of rivers and catchments and landslides are expected to prevail in different parts of the country.”
On November 17, hailstorm killed three people in Kigali, one of them was a motorcyclist in the Kimisagara sector who was caught in a landslide trying to hold on to his motorcycle.
More lives remain at risk as the weatherman forecasts as much rain as 400 mm until late December. The current Kigali Master Plan 2050 does not give details on risk zones and water hazards management, leaving room for policymakers -the City of Kigali, the Ministry of Infrastructure, and the housing authority, to develop and implement storm water management.
Kigali currently has no city storm water management policy. Its development hold on to his motorcycle. More lives remain at risk as the weatherman forecasts as much rain as 400 mm until late December.
The current Kigali Master Plan 2050 does not give details on risk zones and water hazards management, leaving room for policymakers -the City of Kigali, the Ministry of Infrastructure, and the housing authority, to develop and implement storm water management.
Kigali currently has no city storm water management policy. Its development is expected to be completed by March 2023, according to director general of Rwanda Water Board, Emmanuel Rukundo. The absence of the particular policy implies that the city currently has not mapped out hotspots of natural hazards such as floods.
“Once the policy is complete, we will know which infrastructure are compatible with Kigali’s terrain today and in 30 years to come,” Emmanuel Rukundo told Rwanda Today.
Some areas in Kigali have become infamous for consistent lethal floods. For instance, Nyamirambo-Kimisagara and Gatsata-Karuruma roads flood every rainy season, blocking traffic and killing people.
Mr Rukundo told Rwanda Today that several projects to revamp roads and swamps corresponding to water hazards are in process.
“For instance, after completing the Muhazi dike that stopped Nyabugogo infamous floods, we are now constructing the Mpanzi dike that will stop roads surrounding Nyabugogo swamp, including Gatsata and Karuruma, from flooding,” he explained.
He added that more similar water catchment projects are undergoing construction in the north-western volcanic part of Rwanda to retain floods from the volcanoes.
The rainy season does not only pose a danger to residents in high-risk zones but also to families with poor roof water harvesting methods and weak roofs are at risk as well.
Paulin Ruzibiza, a civil engineer in Kigali, explained to Rwanda Today that institutions in charge need to enforce quality building standards to minimize severity of floods. He says most residential builders opt for cheap sub-standardized houses that are not sustainable.
According to Ms Ruzibiza, it would take a minimum of Rwf45 million to build a sustainable, single-family residential house that meets Kigali’s building standards.
Rwanda Housing Authority reports that around 35,000 families were stuck in high-risk zones in 2020; countrywide, less than 10,000 families have been evacuated from mostly uplands as well as valleys and swampy areas. The rest face imminent danger including death.
The Ministry of Emergency Management spent around $3 million every year tackling the impacts of the killer rains even as families call for long-term solutions.