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Heavy rainfalls in different mountainous parts of Rwanda including Gicumbi District have been something usual in the last couple of years. However, this has over the past years put at risk the lives of innocent people as well as causing big damage to people’s properties, not forgetting the loss of economic infrastructures.
Soil erosion and other environmental degradation related impact like flooding and landslides have also been at a high trend due to increased heavy rains which, in most cases, the situation is aggravated by the lack of efficient rainwater harvesting systems by the human settlements.
All this is what the Green Gicumbi project, a six-year adaptation project, has been trying to address over the first year of its implementation. Currently, residents of Rurembo Village, Rugerero Cell, Mukarange Sector in Gicumbi District are praising the project interventions under its component 3 which target to increase water conservation, efficient use of water, and reduction of run-off and erosion during heavy rainfalls.
‘‘Our houses had a lot of water caused by heavy rainfalls. This has been causing soil erosion in our area. But with this constructed rainwater harvesting tank, the water will be controlled. No more soil erosion like before’’ said Mbonabirama Theophile, an 80-years old who benefited from a water harvesting tank in his home.
‘‘Rainwater that will be stocked in this tank will greatly help me in my domestic activities like food preparation and hygiene. Due to the lack of water harvesting systems in my house, the rainwater was so devastating to my neighbors and this has been causing conflict between us. But now, we are going to live in harmony since no water will be damaging anymore,’’ narrates Mukamusana Cesarie, another beneficiary.
In general, interventions of the Green Gicumbi Project under the component on climate-resilient settlement target to reduce the exposure of human settlements in the watershed to flooding and landslides, build climate resilience and support highly vulnerable households living in exposed areas to relocate to green social housing developments.
So far, five underground spherical tanks with 100m3 each and 70 aboveground ferro-cement tanks with 3m3 each have been built. A conveyance system connecting the small tanks to the big tanks to ensure the rainwater is effectively controlled for effective management and use are also being under construction.
In the framework of ensuring the local community participation and ownership of the project interventions, on Thursday 25 February 2021, the local community participated in a community work/Umuganda that aimed at excavating the places for installation of pipes connecting the overflow of ferro-cement tanks to the underground tanks.
‘‘In addition to constructing for me a water tank, the project has been supporting me through the job they offered me. This has been very essential to my family members. I really appreciate the project. Our contribution as beneficiaries is to ensure the sustainability of constructed infrastructure since they are of great importance to us.’’ testified Uwamariya Gaudance, a window and one of the project beneficiaries.