Rwanda: Building Resilience to Flood Hazards in Northwest Rwanda through Improved National and Local Capacity

Context and objectives 

The objective of this project was to support the Government of Rwanda and the City of Kigali’s efforts in building resilience against floods by providing technical assistance to implement flood risk management solutions funded by the Rwanda Urban Development Project II. 

This project developed an operational flood early warning system for the Sebeya River Basin in North-West Rwanda, an area which had witnessed deadly flooding events. This system was embedded in a new national early warning platform, which can be extended to provide early warnings of hydro-meteorological hazards across the country by adding further components and models. This system was designed to provide warnings through a new smart-phone app and other communication channels.

The project outputs informed the development and investment planning for the Government of Rwanda, the World Bank, and other development partners. Specifically, it informed the World Bank's Landscape Approach to Forest Reforestation and Conservation (LAFREC) project, which promoted flood risk reduction as essential for land restoration activities.

Another component was added to the project after heavy rains led to flooding in the City of Kigali in the winter of 2019. Under this new component, the Rwanda Water and Forestry Agency (RWFA) developed a new hydrological model that analyzed flood-prone areas of Kigali, prioritized by the city’s flood management task force. Technical assistance was also provided to the City of Kigali on developing green infrastructure solutions to mitigate the impact of flooding in precarious urban neighborhoods.

Main activities and results

The following activities were carried out under the Program: 

  • Preparation of technical studies and analytical work, particularly hydrological modelling and flood-risk mapping for selected watersheds in the targeted landscape. The models and flood risk maps that were produced helped identify disaster-prone communities and sectors.
  • Supported improvements of national and local development plans in disaster prone areas, by identifying high-risk activities and appropriate disaster risk reduction interventions.
  • Developed actionable hydro-meteorological forecasting and an effective early warning system for at-risk communities in Northwest Rwanda.
  • Provided expertise for the training agencies and communities both at the national and at the local level. 

The Rwanda Environmental Management Authority has improved national and local understanding of hydro-meteorologically induced disaster risks by undertaking a hydrologic assessment of the Sebeya Basin. Using flood hazard maps, disaster-prone communities were identified in the Kanama Sector of the Rubavu District. In addition, a prototype version of a national early-warning system has been installed, and officials from the RWFA were trained on the use of these systems. 

Partnerships and coordination

The project's main counterparts included the RWFA, the Rwanda Environmental Management Authority, the Rwanda Meteorological Agency, and the Ministry in Charge of Emergency Management. 

  • Africa
Window of Action
  • Window 2
Amount approved
  • $850,000
  • 10/2017 - 10/2021