Due to its hilly topography, several areas of Rwanda are located in high risk zones. Natural disasters – and landslides in particular – have the potential to derail economic development affecting communities in terms of damaged infrastructure, displacement and loss of life. Areas of Rwanda have been repeatedly affected by flooding, however, climate change and increase in extreme weather patterns have increased in recent years. In addition, population increase has resulted in pressure on land use resulting in the construction of human settlements in areas highly susceptible to landslides. A recent study estimated that over 49% of the total population of Rwanda resides in areas considered to be highly susceptible to landslides.
By May of this year, four months of heavy rains resulted in a death toll of 200 in Rwanda including three individuals who died following a mudslide in Kigali. Flooding along the Sebeya River and concomitant landslides in Rubavu directly affected 4,750 people from 950 households. In total, an estimated 5,000 households were affected by flooding in Rubavu alone. GGGI Rwanda has been active in the six secondary cities to promote climate resilience in urban centers and mainstreaming of the national Green Growth and Climate Resilience Strategy. GGGI is also providing technical assistance to support the implementation of Rwanda’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), which includes program actions for disaster management through climate and data projections, risk assessments and vulnerability mapping.
From June 21-22 of 2018, Innocent Kabenga (formerly GGGI Country Representative for Rwanda) served as part of a multi-agency task force coordinated by Eric Serubibi, Director General of the Rwanda Housing Authority (RHA), and headed by Senator Hon. Tito Rutaremara. The focus of the tour was to visit the city of Kigali and six secondary cities to inform a review their respective masterplans. Innocent Kabenga was part of the team that visited areas of Rwanda in Musanze and Rubavu that had recently experienced a high volume of rainfall resulting in subsequent flooding and landslides.
Zones with a high risk for flooding and landslides in Rwanda have been identified by the Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs (MIDIMAR) through the National Risk Atlas. Several areas have been earmarked for relocation of villages and settlements to higher ground, often into green villages. Rwanda was recently awarded a 32.8 million USD grant from the Green Climate Fund to implement the “Strengthening Climate Resilience of Rural Communities in Norther Rwanda (SCRNRP)” project. The award will support 150,000 residents and is one of the largest investments made in Rwanda’s green development. The project will run for six years and will support adaptation planning and diversification of livelihoods of households living in landslide and flood-prone areas.
The tour included visits to both urban and peri-urban areas to assess the damage caused by heavy rains and for the participants to develop informed insights into the current conditions of the settlements visited. The mission to Rubavu and Musanze was led by Senator Tito Rutaremara and included representatives from key stakeholders and partners including representatives from the Kigali City Council, the Ministry of Land and Forestry (MINILAF), and the Ministry of Infrastructure (MININFRA) among others. The delegation visited several areas and met with Government of Rwanda leaders at the district and city level. The local officials made presentations on the current and planned development activities and engaged in discussions before the delegation was taken to visit different sites, including housing projects, water and sanitation ongoing projects and other developmental initiatives in the respective jurisdictions. Mr Kabenga acknowledge efforts of the Government stating “during the visit to Rubavu and Musanze, I appreciated the Government of Rwanda’s approach to disasters management and the required solutions where high level leaders go on ground, engage with the community and propose evidence based mitigation and adaptation measures”.