27 January 2013

East Africa: Regional Assembly Adopts Climate Change Report

Photo: Andrew Vlad/COP18
A session at the United Nations COP18 summit in Doha, Qatar.

Kampala, Uganda — East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) has adopted a report of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee (ATNR) on Climate Change.

Members of the assembly noted that climate change is hampering agriculture, affecting natural resources and largely degrading the environment and advocates for a multi-disciplinary approach towards mitigating on the adverse environmental impacts.

A statement issued by the assembly's Publicist Bobi Odiko said that the assembly also passed a key Resolution on Climate Change enumerating a raft of critical areas for consideration.

The report presented by committee chairperson Isabelle Ndahayo, urged legislators to fully participate in the consolidation of Africa's common position on climate change and to focus on priority areas of interest within the international arena.

It states that EAC has a unique opportunity to influence climate change negotiations given the institutional arrangements including the EALA, Lake Victoria Basin Commission and the technical mandate as enshrined by the Treaty for the Establishment of the EAC.

It thus recommends that a special committee to addresses technical and strategic issues on climate change be formed by EALA while urging the EAC Secretariat and the EALA to ensure the full operationalisation of the EAC Climate Change Fund while the Council of Ministers should bring a bill on the same to the House.

The report further recommends that the assembly and legislators from the national parliaments accelerate the regional and national adaptation and mitigation responses informed by scientific information.

It adds that that could be achieved by reinforcing efforts at the regional and international arena under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations.

EALA member Leonce Ndarubagiye noted that survival of humankind was key and reiterated that declining changes in the atmosphere would have serious repercussions on the environment.

Hon Christophe Bazivamo remarked that climate change was a challenging issue impacting negatively on the region and the continent. "Today we see devastating floods, drought, environmental degradation and other disasters affecting productivity and we must take rapid measures to contain them. We as EALA must play a key role in advocacy issues", the legislator remarked.Hon Mike Sebalu noted that weather patterns were changing with the water levels falling to considerably low levels hitherto unseen.

He decried the scenario of unpredictability of climate and remarked that Parliamentary intervention was of the essence and relevant in dealing with the matter. The legislator called for the building of synergies between the different Regional Economic Communities to have joint mechanisms and strategies of mitigating climate change.

Hon Abubakar Zein Abubakar noted that the warming and rising of the sea level was a notable challenge. He also reiterated that if unchecked, water could lead to a situation that could escalate conflicts in the region.

Hon Judith Pareno remarked that it was important for the EALA Members to sensitise the publics on the effects of climate change. "We have seen the menace of the water hyacinth, dwindling levels of water among other effects and it is important that we act first", she added, while calling on the EAC to finalise and implement the various draft EAC documents.

Hon Abdullah Mwinyi lamented that the ozone layer was been depleted through increase of emissions in the atmosphere. He urged the Council of Ministers to shed more light on the effect of Chlorofluorocarbon emissions (CFCs) on the ozone layer especially with regards to the importation of refrigeration facilities from South East Asia. Hon Mwinyi noted that green house gases were been affected by the continuous cutting down of trees. "Members, we must re-dress this matter by planting more trees as one of the far reaching and tangible modes, he said.

The EAC Secretary General, Amb Richard Sezibera said the bloc was concerned about the effects of climate change and commended EALA for the novel idea towards supporting tree-planting initiatives.

Tanzania deputy minister of EAC Dr. Abdulla J.A. Saadalla noted that food scarcity was worrisome and remarked that the EAC was looking at the issues revolving around climate change bilaterally and collectively.

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