Two weeks on, floods victims in Rubavu long wait for help

Tuesday June 13 2023

Several farmers across the country are counting losses and risk losing the source of their livelihoods after the recent floods destroyed thousands of hectares of farmland. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA

By Ange Iliza

Families affected by the recent floods and landslides in Rubavu and its neighboring districts are still waiting for a word on their resettlement plan, two weeks later.

Currently, more than 5,500 individuals are seeking shelter in various centers across Rubavu alone, with additional centers established in other districts. These individuals have already experienced the devastating loss of their homes due to the disaster. Over 9,000 people have been displaced.

In 2021, Rubavu was severely impacted by the volcanic eruptions of Nyiragongo, resulting in widespread destruction. The catastrophic events led to the closure of businesses, the destruction of over 1,200 houses, and the collapse of crucial infrastructure and crops.

During that time, promises were made to resettle those affected; however, individuals Rwanda Today spoke to have not received any compensation or assistance.

Adeliphine Mucunguzi, a resident whose house was severely damaged during the seismic activity that followed the Nyiragongo eruption in May 2021, was assured of resettlement but has not received any support.

Ms Mucunguzi, who used to live in a house she says she was left for by her parents. On the second day of tremors on May 23, 2021, the house got hit, split into two, and two walls fell.


Mucunguzi was later put on a list of people  who would be resettled. She says she later received some utensils and food, but the resettlement never came. When Ms Mucunguzi spoke to Rwanda Today was renting a different house because the one she was dwelling in was filled with water during the floods.

“I have almost forgotten about it. I do not know what happened, but I hope that with those whose houses were ruined by floods, we will also be considered,” Ms Mucunguzi, who lives with her two young children and husband, said.

The Rwanda Housing Authority has estimated that approximately $30 million will be required to resettle families whose homes were destroyed by the floods. To address this urgent need, the government has devised plans to construct two modern villages in the Rubavu district.

One of these villages is already under construction and is projected to be completed within the next three months and will accommodate 120 families. Acting Mayor of Rubavu district said those who did not own houses will be assisted with a two-month rent.

Many affected families are hesitant about whether it will be followed through or if three modern villages will be enough to accommodate all the displaced families. Over 9,000 people have been displaced in several districts.

Jean Claude Bariyanga who lost a house and its own documents to the floods in Rubavu expressed his concerns to Rwanda Today that he is concerned that the house will be too small for his 7-people family if he gets resettled.

Bariyanga said he is also worried that he will need to acquire new ownership documents for his house, a procedure that suffers at the hands of poor and delayed services.

Resettlement and expropriation compensations have been raised by the latest Auditor General’s report among the delayed payments with the government currently owing over Rwf3.34 billion to expropriated and displaced families.

Some payments have delayed for four years.