Government to roll out National Disaster and Risk Management plan

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KAMPALA– The of State for Minister Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees in the Office of the Prime Minister, Hon Esther Anyakun, has revealed that Uganda will soon have a National Disaster and Risk management plan to handle disasters but added that human resource capacity and financial resource availability remain a challenge. 

Hon Anyakun, revealed this during a two-day national disaster preparedness dialogue at Speke Resort saying that the technical team will brainstorm and fix all gaps in the draft plan this week and submit to cabinet for approval in the first week of December this year.

“We have been more reactive to disaster rather than pro-active but we are going to have a coordinated approach in preparation and management of disasters before or after they have occurred.” She said.

Anyakun said the government and development partners plan to establish regional hubs in disaster prone areas such as Mt. Elgon and Kasese to fasten response mechanism and save lives.

The development of the plan whose initial budget stands at US 50 million is in response to President Yoweri Museveni’s directive last July that the government comes up with a National Disaster and Risk Management Plan to deal with the current and future disasters including refugees.

She said that the plan is in line with the National Development Plan III based on funding for short term, equivalent to one year, medium term, equivalent to two years and long term, equivalent to three years and reviewed every three years.

The government will work with development partners in a coordinated manner to handle disasters using a newly unveiled parish development model.

However, while the new development is welcome to the country so prone to environmental disasters, key ministries and agencies responsible to implement the plan including Ministry of Water and Environment, Ministry of Local Government, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Works and Transport, Uganda National Meteorological Authority and National Environment Management Authority, decry low funding to keep pace with exponential technological advances and well trained human resource to prepare and manage disasters.

Statistics from National Planning Authority show that although the government has been increasing funding towards disaster risk management, it is still too low, with the financial years from 2015/16 to 2018/19 having the lowest released funds of less than Ugx 100 bn annually.

However, the government increased the funding in the financial year 2019/20 to Ugx 187.6 bn owing to the coronavirus pandemic, but utilized only Ugx 165.3bn.

In addition, most districts across the country do not have budgets to cater for disaster management, the situation that may hamper the effective implementation of the new plan.

Uganda has in the past years faced multiple weather-related and geological disasters in form of landslides in Mt Elgon and Rwenzori areas, flash floods especially in Kasese, Kampala and other areas, lightening and droughts in most parts of the country and most of these have caused many deaths and displaced hundreds of people.