Thursday, 28 March 2013

Rwf56b for relocation of high risk zone dwellers

A woman cries after her house was hit by floods. City authorities say about 10,000 families live in houses located on steep hillsides and marshland. The New Times/John Mbanda.
The total cost for the relocation of residents living in Kigali City areas deemed vulnerable to natural disasters will come to Rwf56 billion, officials have said.

According to City of Kigali officials, the money will be sourced from different channels.

Currently, about 10,000 families live in houses located on steep hillsides and around marshlands which are identified as high risk zones, according to the Mayor of Kigali, Fidele Ndayisaba.

“We have prepared sites in the three districts where we will relocate these people, but as an emergency plan, we are sensitising these people to move out of these areas before the April rains,” said the Mayor. About 9,000 families are targeted under this emergence plan.

Since December last year, Rwanda has experienced extremely heavy rains which have claimed many lives and destroyed houses, mainly in these high risk areas.

“We intend to generate the money partly from the districts’ budgets and from well wishers. We will also construct houses for the needy outside the risk zones through community work (Umuganda),” Ndayisaba said.

Out of the 10,000 families that live in the risky areas, 45 per cent are renting while 55 per cent are living in their own houses.

Those who are renting were advised to seek houses elsewhere and vacate these areas.

The government, according to the mayor, embarked on the crisis plan as a way of dealing with recent disasters like floods and landslides.


Part of the relocation plan, according to the mayor, will include a complete and partial compensation. 

So far 1,500 families have been identified and categorised as those who will be relocated and given houses. The identification of the vulnerable is done in collaboration with grassroots leaders through the Ubudehe classification programme.

“There are also others that we will be given plots and iron sheets to construct their own houses while there are those that are financially stable whom we will just give plots,” Ndayisaba said.

He, however added that construction of houses for the needy living in risky zones is scheduled to commence in August, this year, and said that those that can should seek temporary shelter elsewhere before the rain, even before the houses are constructed for them to avoid disasters.

According to Angelique Kayitesi, a Kigali lawyer citizens should not be evicted without being compensated. “Normally, their properties should be valuated, paid, then given one month for the preparation,” she said in a previous interview.

Likewise, MP Desire Nyandwi, the deputy chairman of the Parliamentary  standing committee on Agriculture, Environment and Livestock, argues that residents who settled in areas in question before the current law came into force and have land titles have right to compensation.

Nyandwi referred to the 2005 Law on Environment, according to which the government gives a-two-year grace period to people who live in wetlands and slopes to leave. After this time, the government can use the same law and force them to relocate.

Figures from the Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugees Affairs indicate that the February heavy downpour affected 11,346 people countrywide.

The floods started in early February, the result of torrential rains that have also led to soil erosion in some hilly regions, and Kigali areas are more vulnerable because of its topography being surrounded by hills.


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