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Rwandan senate votes unanimously the
first ever disaster management bill

KIGALI, (Xinhua) -- The upper legislative chamber of the Rwandan parliament on Wednesday voted unanimously to pass a new bill on disaster management that will be enacted to become a law by the President of Republic, for the management and prevention and mitigation of causes of natural and human- generated disasters in the East African nation, according to an official statement issued in Kigali.

The vote came after a long-drawn and heated debate over the role of various government institutions and ministries in the coordination and intervention in as post disaster situations where by humanitarian response to communities affected in remote rural areas has been compromised over time by a lack of functional coordinated mechanism, it said.

According to the recent official report released by Rwanda Environmental Management Authority (REMA), Rwanda has been for long vulnerable to natural disasters emanating from climatic or seismic disturbances. Some of these disasters include drought, torrential rains, floods, landslides, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and epidemics.

It is said that over the last 20 years, these disasters have practically occurred throughout the country and they were in most cases exacerbated by poor farming practices, deforestation and environmental degradation among others.

According to the new approved bill, any kind of disaster shall from now on be classified according to the three categories established by the law.

The first category will be comprised of disasters that don’t involve loss of human life, major loss to property and damage to the environment while the second classification will consist of the event that might cause or threatens to cause death, injury, major loss to property, damage to the environment and disruption to the community, it said.

On the other hand, the third category of disasters will be classified for its severity and magnitude in causing major loss to human lives, property and the environment.

Among other activities to be done as specified by the new bill , in a move to be prepared against natural disasters, it includes mainly the prevention and to prevent disasters from happening, rescuing of people during a disaster, and the conduction community awareness programmes and training personnel to be prepared to cope with a disaster, the statement said.

The new bill has been approved after several families settled in marshy areas in the slums of Kigali and its surroundings, have been at many occasions, affected the torrential rain which pounded some suburb areas of Rwandan capital, over recent months.

In another related accident, at least 50 homes and crops  have been destroyed in late January this year following a violent rainstorm that hit  Rwanda’s South Eastern region of Bugesera.

Natural disasters cost the tiny East African nation a total budget of Rwf 1 billion (1,4 millions USD) annually, according to official estimates.



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