At least 201 people have died due to recent disasters caused by torrential heavy rains across Rwanda, according to recorded incidences by the Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee (MIDMAR).
There has been also massive damage of crops, infrastructure and properties. Some locations have experienced landslides and floods.
In a televised address to the nation, Rwanda’s Prime Minister, Dr. Edouard Ngirente, presented a situation assessment on Friday morning after his field visit early this week to areas affected.
He said that the situation is very serious, but the government has set up a national technical committee to assist in conducting “a technical assessment” and advise on the best way to address the problem.
The committee is made up of technicians from different institutions including the Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF), the Rwanda National Police (RNP), the Ministry of Infrastructure, the Ministry of Ministry of Lands and Forestry and others.
Rescue missions have been conducted to provide safety and humanitarian assistance to the victims.
“We are trying our best to address the matter with the available resources,” he told the press.
The Prime Minister said that those affected are being provided with shelter, food aid, medical assistance and protection of their properties, particularly those who are being resettled in places further from their damaged homes.
He said the government has already disbursed over Rwf346 million, but more assistance will be mobilised. He however noted that government is bogged down by meager resources to cater for every need compared to the magnitude of the problem.
On the side of infrastructure, 25 national roads were affected and the PM said they have been cleared and out of the 13 bridges that were damaged, three are under repair.
In the countryside, 44 district roads (feeder roads) were affected and 40 have been cleared.
Scientific comparisons have been made to determine the cause of the rain and the levels of the rains. Observations of the current rains since January 2018 against Long Term Mean (LTM) have also been made.
Data collected indicates that all representative stations across the country experienced total amount of rainfall above Long Term Median in January.
The rains have been described as “abnormal” and explanations are that; they were induced by the occurrence of a tropical cyclone near Madagascar, which provided important moisture budget in the atmosphere of Rwanda.
However, according to the PM, the rains have affected the whole East African Region, Kenya being one of the most hit area with dozens of people dying and multiple properties damaged.
Generally, according to data from meteorological data, much of the country will experience rains within the range of 25mm-300mm during the month of May.
However, heavy rain ranging from 100mm to 300mm is expected in localised places of Gatsibo, Kigali and Nyamagabe along Nyungwe forest.
The map below indicates rainfall pattern for different places across the country, the expected rainfall ranges from 5mm to 300mm.
There is fear that if the rains continue as forecasted, there will be massive loss of agricultural production in the affected areas, increase in food insecurity and a likely famine and its social economic consequences.
More deaths could occur as well as loss of properties and damage of infrastructure.
“We are concerned by the continued damages caused, but the government is planing to put in place mechanisms to ensure we control the damages and provide emergency facilities,” the Premier said.
Dr. Vincent Biruta Minister of Land Forestry told Taarifa that the rains may not necessarily cause damage, but the geographical set up of Rwanda in this case facilitates disasters such as landslides.
“It is not that we have broken infra structure or poor infrastructure, it’s the nature of our country,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister said despite the existing efforts to construct terraces on hilly areas, more will be constructed and grasses and trees planted to mitigate other damages such as soil erosion and landslides.
Currently, landslides are caused by a lot of rain water that has penetrated the earth and loosened its strengths to hold up before it is eroded downwards to the valleys.