Over 100 people in Rwanda and 6 people in Uganda have been killed as flash floods sweep through the entire region. Thousands of homes have been destroyed
Background to the Rwanda Floods
Image Source: Reuters
East Africa has always been susceptible to floods and landslides, especially in the monsoon season. Floods and heavy rain have caused large-scale death and destruction in the region.
In 2018, over 200 people died because of flooding in the region. In 2019 due to 2 months of heavy rain, over 250 people were killed in Rwanda, with thousands being displaced. The rains in 2019, affected over 2 million people all over the East African Region.
Similarly in 2020 over 65 people died in Rwanda due to torrential rainfall. At the same time in May 2020, 200 people died in Kenya due to heavy rainfall. Even last month, 15 people died in Ethiopia, and hundreds of houses and livestock were lost to flooding.
2023 Rwanda Floods
Image Source : Associated Press
In the past few days, Rwanda has had heavy rainfall in the Northern and Western parts of the country. This has led to huge floods and landslides in these areas. Over 120 people have been killed so far, with 77 people being injured.
According to a government source, 5,000 homes have been destroyed while 2,500 homes have been partially damaged. The government started relief efforts, to help with delivering emergency supplies, as well as burying the dead.
The main reason for so many deaths was the water and soil erosion causing houses to weaken and collapse on people. The government has issued advisories and warnings for people to follow, to avoid more deaths and injuries.
The Western Province has been hit the hardest, with infrastructure and homes being heavily damaged in the region. The hardest hit areas are – Ngororero, Rubavu, Rutsiro, and Nyabihu. Uganda too saw the deaths of 6 people and some damage in the border regions.
The Rwandan Government Reaction and Response
Image Source: Reuters
Apart from the rapid response and relief efforts, the Rwandan government has announced 100,000 Rwandan Francs as compensation for the families of those killed.
The Prime Minister of Rwanda, Édouard Ngirente toured the affected western Rwandan regions. He said that search efforts were being undertaken and that the death toll could rise further, due to bodies being buried under the mud.
Rwanda’s Emergency Management Minister Marie Solange Kayisire said – “Relief efforts began immediately, including helping to bury victims of the disaster and providing supplies to those whose homes were destroyed”
Alain Mukuralinda, Deputy Spokesperson of the government said – “The death toll is now 130 people. We do not know the total number of homeless people at the moment, but counting is ongoing.What we know is that over 5,100 homes were destroyed and they all had families living in them.”
While the East African region has always suffered from floods and landslides, the changing climate is causing extreme weather events in the region. Experts say that Africa will face the brunt of the effects of climate change and global warming. A combined and unified effort is required to deal with these issues.