Rwandan ‘anti-thatch’ campaign leaves thousands of ‘Pygmies’ homeless 1 April 2011

A family stand amidst the ruins of their home
A family stand amidst the ruins of their home
© COPORWA/Survival

NOT AN APRIL FOOL’S DAY JOKE

A Rwandan government programme to destroy all thatched roofs in the country is leaving thousands of Batwa ‘Pygmies’ homeless.

Hundreds of Batwa families have seen their homes destroyed in recent months, forcing them to live in the open during the rainy season.

The authorities plan to destroy all thatched roofs in the country by May this year. Under the destructive scheme, families with means are meant to build new houses at their own expense.

The very poor (which include almost all Batwa) are supposed to be provided with iron sheets to replace the thatch, and the sick and elderly should be given completely new homes. But many huts have been destroyed without new homes being provided.

The roof of this Batwa hut was destroyed as part of a government scheme to rid Rwanda of all thatched housing. Hundreds of Batwa families have been left without shelter as a result.
The roof of this Batwa hut was destroyed as part of a government scheme to rid Rwanda of all thatched housing. Hundreds of Batwa families have been left without shelter as a result.
© COPORWA/Survival

Among the most affected are the Batwa, the most marginalized people in Rwandan society. Rwandan Batwa are subjected to deep-seated racism and discrimination on a daily basis.

In Rwanda’s Southern Province, 30,000 thatched huts are said to have been destroyed in the last three months. Thousands of families have been left homeless.

The Governor of the Southern Province has justified the demolitions by saying ‘people were seemingly happy to stay in their thatched houses and showed no commitment to leave them.’ Survival has protested to the Rwandan authorities.

The roof of this Batwa hut was destroyed as part of a government scheme to rid Rwanda of all thatched housing. Hundreds of Batwa families have been left without shelter as a result.
The roof of this Batwa hut was destroyed as part of a government scheme to rid Rwanda of all thatched housing. Hundreds of Batwa families have been left without shelter as a result.
© COPORWA/Survival

Stephen Corry, Survival’s director, said today, ‘Destroying Batwa’s homes, against their wishes, leaving them drenched by the rains, sounds like a sick joke, or the action of an enemy force. That their government is doing this ‘for their own good’ is deplorably arrogant. You don’t improve people’s housing by demolishing their existing homes and leaving them with nothing.’

Please direct a tweet at the Rwanda government on Twitter asking them to reconsider their campaign

@RwandaGov Please stop destroying the homes of Batwa 'Pygmies' in 'anti-thatch' campaign http://t.co/jCVcNqz Tweet

@RwandaGov's 'anti-thatch' campaign leaves thousands of 'Pygmies' homeless http://t.co/jCVcNqz Tweet



 

Share this news story

 

Act now to help the ‘Pygmies’

  • Write to the director of WWF and ask for the organization to stop funding the abuses committed by anti-poaching squads against Baka men and women.*

Subscribe

Get email updates from Survival:

Subscribe to our news feed:

 

or follow us on the web:

News archive