East Africa: EAC Urged to Start Emergency Disaster Fund

THE East African Legislative Assembly (Eala) is moving to expedite the development of the East African Community (EAC) Climate Change Bill.

The council of ministers has been urged to urgently establish an emergency response fund to assist victims of floods and other environmental funds. The Bill is to be introduced to the House for debate as the rain continues pounding and wreaking havoc on many parts of the region.

A resolution moved by Mr Kim Gai Ruot captures the essence of the threat facing the region. He said there were inadequate resources to effectively curb disasters both at country and regional levels.

The motion also stresses a need for public awareness as community participation is key to disaster preparedness and management.

In his motion to the House, Mr Gai lamented that the perception and members of the public's knowledge of disasters continued being low, making it difficult to prevent the consequences of disasters for communities.

The motion mover informed the House that whereas in 2013, Eala passed the East African Community Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Bill, 2013 to provide for a framework for intervention and assistance to persons affected by natural disasters and mitigate the effects of climate change, the Bill never received assent and was yet to become a law of the EAC.

The repercussions of lack of the Bill include delays in instituting a special disaster management fund to support victims and activities related to disaster risk reduction and management.

"The issue adds to increased number of internally displaced persons in various parts of the EAC as a result of environmental disaster risks," Mr Ruot stressed.

He noted that in addition to natural disasters caused by climate change, protracted droughts and floods, a robust early warning system and emergency response would benefit the EAC in disasters like oil spills which also threatened the environment in specific parts of the EAC.

During debate, Mr Dennis Namaara said the ongoing rain in the region had caused disasters and the deaths of at least 250 people in the EAC region with thousands of other citizens internally displaced.

"There are landslides in the region every now and then. At the same time, several river banks have burst leading to displacements and all these call for immediate measures, laws, relocations and special funds to address pressing issues," he said.

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