President Kagame visits flood victims in Rubavu
President Paul Kagame visited Rubavu, in northwestern Rwanda, devastated by heavy rains and landslides, on Friday, where he met families living in camps after they were left homeless.
The region has been ravaged by floods and mudslides, claiming the lives of 131 people and displacing more than 9,000 since May 2. Families also lost homes, crops and livestock.
President Kagame visited various sites where temporary shelters have been put up. One of the camps is Rugerero, now home to more than 2,500 people, predominantly vulnerable women and children.
Addressing the affected families, the President expressed his condolences to those who lost relatives and promised to facilitate their resettlement as soon as possible.
“I am here to tell you that while we can do little to prevent natural disasters, I promise you that we will do all we can to facilitate your resettlement. In the meantime, we ask you to bear with us,” he said.
Read: Heavy rains devastate north-west Rwanda
The Rwanda Housing Authority estimates that about $30 million is needed to resettle families whose homes were destroyed by the raging waters after river Sebeya broke its banks.
The government plans to construct two modern villages in the Rubavu district, with one already underway and projected to be completed within the next three months. The village is expected to accommodate 120 families.
President Kagame last visited the Rubavu district in 2021 after the area was hit by Nyiragongo volcano eruption tremors that destroyed infrastructure and homes and caused some residents to flee the city.
The Sebeya river, which runs through Rubavu, Rutsiro and Ngororero, is notorious for its disastrous flooding during the rainy season.
Rwanda invested over Rwf2 billion ($1.7 million) in 2019 to contain the river from overflowing. But, despite the heavy investment, the river overflowed again on May 2 and washed away crops and houses, leaving Rubavu and Rutsiro districts devastated.
“Sebeya River washed away my house and many others in my neighbourhood. Our request is for the river to be contained on both sides because it has been flooding for a long time,” Chantal Nirere, one of the residents at Rugerero camp told President Kagame.
Read: Rwanda floods deaths rise to 130
The river was the first site that President Kagame visited upon arriving in Rubavu on Friday, accompanied by ministers and local leaders. He also went to the Centre Scolaire de Nyundo, one of the schools that is flooded.
According to the Ministry of Emergency and Disaster Management, the floods caused significant damage to eight national roads, 26 bridges, eight health facilities, six water treatment plants, multiple schools, and some local factories.
President Kagame also visited the Pfunda tea factory, a market for over a thousand tea farmers in the areas, which is among the affected infrastructure.
On Monday, May 8, President Kagame presided over a Cabinet meeting that focused on formulating a response to the recent disasters.
The ministry responsible for emergency management has set up mobile money and bank accounts to facilitate financial contributions from the public and Rwanda diaspora. A week after the disaster, Rwandans had raised over Rwf10 million (approximately $9,800), the ministry said.