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Uncertain beginning of year for farmers as weatherman warns of floods

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Crop farmers are now bracing for potential losses due to heavy rains that are expected in the next 10 days and the better part of February.

The return of floods and landslides also spell doom for thousands of families still trapped in high-risk zones across the country.

Changing weather patterns and El Nino are expected to trigger heavy rains in the country in the coming weeks, the weatherman has warned.

According to the Rwanda Meteorological Agency (Meteo Rwanda), the country is expected to experience heavy rains beginning this January. Meteo warns that the country is not expected to have a normal sunny period in the current period. 

Farmers have fears that the rains could particularly exacerbate the toll on already dampened prospects for the 2024 season A agriculture that is days away from the harvesting phase for staple crops like maize.

Asked how and to what extent the Ministry of Emergency Management is ready to respond in case of disasters such as floods, Minister Phillipe Habinshuti told the media that the Ministry in partnership with other concerned government and non-government organizations, developed plans and protocols for various types of disasters.

These plans outline roles and responsibilities, as well as coordination mechanisms, he pointed out.

“Districts have active command posts that monitor and report disaster risk status on a daily basis. Shared accurate information helps decide on effective decisions, including evacuation and other preparedness measures,” he said.

While there might not be a predetermined financial budget in figures, Rwanda places a high priority on disaster preparedness, response, and recovery, he indicated.

On June 30, 2023, Rwanda announced it was undertaking a project worth Rwf494 billion to mitigate devastating floods triggered by volcanic activity.

Floods have consistently ranked among lethal and destructive disasters in Rwanda, as indicated by data shared by Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente to parliamentarians on June 30, 2023.

The data showed that between 2017 and May 2023, floods claimed the lives of 1,289 individuals, while 2,114 others sustained injuries across the country, in addition to other damages incurred.

Rwanda has seen destructive storms over the years. Floods and landslides triggered by heavy rains have cost Rwanda over 600 lives since 2018 and about 30,600 houses.

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