Rwanda’s rivers ‘likely to burst their banks’ as regional countries face flood crisis

Rwanda’s rivers ‘likely to burst their banks’ as regional countries face flood crisis

Rwanda Water Resources Board (RWB), on Tuesday, April 30, informed residents of Rwanda that “due to the predicted heavy rains in the first week of May, some rivers could burst their banks to cause flooding in the surrounding communities.”

ALSO READ: Weather forecaster warns of heavy floods, rainstorms, landslides in first week of May

According to a released warning, the rivers that could cause floods include River Sebeya, Karambo, Nyabahanga, Kabirizi, Nyabarongo, Mwogo, Mukungwa, Rubyiro, Cyagara, as well as rivers in the Virunga Corridor.

The gullies in the volcano regions of Burera, Musanze, Nyabihu, and Rubavu could also burst due to heavy rains.

ALSO READ: Rwanda identifies 326 disaster hotspots amid regional flood crisis

“The people living around these rivers should relocate from the flood hotspots and should avoid frequenting areas around during heavy rains. We will closely monitor the rivers and issue an early warning,” the water resources board announced.

The Ministry in charge of Emergency Management (MINEMA) has identified 326 disaster hotspots as heavy rains loom in May in 18 districts, including all districts of the northern and western provinces, and in the City of Kigali.

Heavy rain under the current rainy season is already causing havoc across the country. A mother and her child died in Kigali when their family house collapsed during a heavy downpour over the past weekend. Several houses collapsed in different sectors of Kigali City.

ALSO READ: Western Province put on alert over climate resilience

Heavy rains destroyed crops, roads, and infrastructure including the Vunga Coffee washing station in Shyira sector of Nyabihu District, on Monday, April 29.

The heavy rain-related disasters destroyed 22 houses in Burera District. Additionally, Mpenge River burst its banks in Musanze District, and landslides claimed the lives of two people in Rutsiro District.

According to the report by MINEMA, heavy rain killed 10 people within the last 10 days [one person every day] including three who were killed on Tuesday, April 30.

ALSO READ: How prepared are we one year after devastating rains?

Above-normal rainfall ranging between 40 and 200 millimetres is expected across the country in May, according to the weather forecaster.

As noted, this is way above the usual long-term average which previously varied between 30 and 100 millimetres.

According to Anthony Twahirwa, the Division Manager of Weather and Climate Services Application at Rwanda Meteorology Agency, the flooding in the East African region is being triggered by the El Niño effect, a climate phenomenon that describes the unusual warming of surface waters in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean which triggers heavy rains.

El Niño-induced heavy rains and flooding (riverine and flash floods) continue to hit parts of the eastern African region, including Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, and Sudan.

It is associated with increased rainfall, often causing flooding in the Horn of Africa and the southern United States of America, and unusually dry and warm conditions in Southeast Asia, Australia, and southern Africa.

Floods claim 169 lives, displace 30,000 households in Kenya

The past two weeks have been disastrous in East Africa as heavy rains caused floods leading to the loss of hundreds of lives, displacement of thousands, and damage to property.

ALSO READ: El Nino rains leave Kenya’s arid areas grappling with diseases

Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Burundi have been worst hit by the storms, with highways and railways temporarily closed.

A total of 169 people have died due to the floods across the country, the Kenyan government said on April 30.

According to the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government, the country has continued to experience a devastating flood calamity occasioned by the heavy rains.

“A total of 169 lives have been lost due to the floods. Notably, the mudslide in Mai Mahiu claimed 46 lives; Garissa reported 4 lives lost while Sindo, Homay Bay, reported another 4 fatalities,” the ministry said.

Those injured stand at 102 across the country with 91 missing, Mai Mahiu accounting for 53 and Garissa has reported 16 missing.

The ministry has pointed out that Nairobi, Tana River, West Pokot, Homa Bay, Nakuru, and Murang’a are the most affected counties in the last 24 hours.

“30,099 households have been displaced affecting approximately 150,495 individuals. In Sindo and Homa Bay, a total of 161 households have been displaced,” added the ministry.

The ministry added that a total of 190,942 individuals have been affected by these natural disasters.


Experts warn that Tanzania, one of the sources of food to the region, will realise reduced yields by up to 30 per cent due to the impact of the floods, The East African reported.

In Tanzania, by Wednesday last week, the government had announced the deaths of 63 people.

Government Spokesperson Mobhare Matinyi said 8,532 houses have been damaged in Morogoro and Coast regions and 76,698 hectares of farms destroyed.

The country’s Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa told Parliament flooding had left at least 236 injured, while more than 10,000 houses had been damaged and upwards of 200,000 people affected.

“The heavy El Nino rains, accompanied by strong winds and flooding and landslides in various parts of the country have caused adverse effects,” Majaliwa said.

The rains cut off movement between Kenya and Tanzania on the Nairobi-Namanga highway for the better part of Wednesday, after the Athi River burst its banks flooding a large part of residential and industrial areas in Kajiado and Machakos counties.

Eight camps have been established in the Coast region to accommodate 1,529 flood survivors and one in Morogoro.

The government has provided 40,000 tonnes of foodstuffs such as maize and rice and medicines and medical equipment worth $83,588 were donated to the people in the camps.


In Uganda, flash floods made movement on the Northern Corridor difficult.

Last week, the Masaka-Mbarara highway – which is also Uganda’s main trade route to Rwanda and DR Congo – was cut off by floods, paralysing traffic, and the Kyambogo-Banda road was also cut off while in the Industrial Area, traders were left counting losses as they kept their shops closed due to flooding.


In Burundi, Lake Tanganyika’s rising waters invaded the port of Bujumbura, disrupting business and making movement difficult for people and goods.

The rising waters of Lake Tanganyika have caused the Kanyosha River to overflow, damaging homes and other property in Bujumbura.

Burundi’s Interior Minister Martin Niteretse called for support in managing the crisis.

Between September 2023, and April 7, 2024, some 203,944 people were affected by flooding, with 19,250 homes and 209 classrooms destroyed in Burundi.

Meanwhile, Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe have now declared national disasters as a result of the El Nino-induced drought, which has devastated their food production and wiped out most of their staple crops.



Michel Nkurunziza 

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