Rwanda – at Least 49 Killed in Floods and Landslides, 500 Homes Destroyed

Landslides and floods hit several parts of Rwanda between 07 and 08 May 2016 after a period of heavy rainfall. Government officials say that at least 49 deaths have been recorded so far. Some of the victims drowned in flood water, others died after houses collapsed under the heavy rain or landslide.

The worst hit areas are the districts of Gakenke and Muhanga. As many as 34 people have died in Gakenke, 8 in Muhanga, 4 in Rubavu and 3 in Ngororero. Around 26 injuries have also been reported.

Reports from the Ministry for Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs say that over 500 houses have been completely destroyed, leaving thousands homeless.

The disaster comes just days before the country hosts the World Economic Forum on Africa, which will be held in Kigali from 11 to 13 May 2016.

Floods in Gakenke, Rwanda. Photo: Government of Rwanda
Floods in Gakenke, Rwanda. Photo: Government of Rwanda

Roads, Power and Water Supplies Damaged

The floods and landslides have also caused damage to roads and transport infrastructure. Some roads have been completely blocked and officials say that the Kigali-Muhanga and Kigali-Musanze roads are closed in order to prevent risks for commuters.

Electricity supply has also been interrupted after power cables in Gakenke were downed during the heavy rain.

Supply of drinking water has also been cut. Water and Sanitation Corporation Limited (WASAC Ltd) say that it has temporally suspended water treatment at the Nzove treatment plants due to heavy rain which has caused “high water turbidity.” The company said that “There will be water supply interruptions in some areas of Kigali, Kacyiru, Remera and Kicukiro.”

Government Reaction

The Rwandan government has expressed its solidarity with families affected by the disasters, and Prime Minister Anastase Murekezi has assured families affected by the disasters of the government’s support.

In a statement issued earlier today, the government said:

“The Government of Rwanda regrets the loss of life and express solidarity with affected families.

“The Government of Rwanda salutes residents who came to the rescue of their neighbours and those hosting people left homeless, and assures victims of the disaster that required assistance will be provided.

“Coordinated efforts by all stakeholders have been mobilized to prevent similar disasters from occurring during this rain season.”

Prime Minister Anastase Murekezi has assured families affected by the disasters of the government's support. Photo: Government of Rwanda
Prime Minister Anastase Murekezi has assured families affected by the disasters of the government’s support. Photo: Government of Rwanda

Rainfall Warnings

Meteo Rwanda issued a warning of heavy rainfall on 08 May for further heavy rain over the coming days. Between 8 to 9 May, 47 mm of rain was recorded in Kamembe during a 24 hour period.

Heavy rain warnings in Rwanda. Image: Meteo Rwanda
Heavy rain warnings in Rwanda. Image:  Rwanda Meteorology Agency