Members of Parliament have passed a motion urging government to establish a Disaster Preparedness and Management Commission that will deal with natural and man-made disasters.
Mpigi district woman MP, Hon. Sarah Nakawunde who moved the motion said that the prevailing mechanisms in place to respond to and manage natural or man-made calamities happening around the country is a far outcry from what is required.
Article 249 of the 1995 Uganda Constitution prescribed the formation of the Commission to handle natural or man-made disasters that befall the country.
Nakawunde said that in 2011, the Ministry for Disaster Preparedess developed a National Policy for disaster preparedness and management that details te mechanisms and structures for effective management of disasters.
“The office of the prime minister should develop a national disaster preparedness and management bill to enforce key provisions of the policy like institutional structures,” she added.
Rubaga North MP, Hon. Moses Kasibante said that there is need for technical teams charged with managing disasters that befall the country.
Kasibante gave an example of the uphill task the government was met with in allocating an appropriate institution to handle locusts that invaded Uganda.
“It was difficult to pinpoint which institution or government body would be charged then with combating the issue. At one point, the responsibility moved from Uganda Wildlife Authority to the Prime Minister’s Office under the disaster preparedness docket and then finally the Ministry of Agriculture,” he said.
Kasibante added that when COVID-19 struck the country in 2020, the response from the government was to appoint a COVID-19 taskforce because of the lack of a proper technical arm to manage the matter.
“The taskforce was also difficult to supervise and to be made accountable especially for some of the scandals that arose from poor management of donations and aid meant to mitigate the disease outbreak,” Kasibante added.
Jonam County representative, Hon. Emmanuel Ongiertho said the Disaster Preparedness docket under the Prime Minister’s office has on several occasions been complacent in managing disaster.
“The people in this office always have an excuse to under deliver claiming issues of underfunding or lack of funds from the Ministry of Finance to the Prime Minister’s office,” he added.
Ongiertho added that with the Commission that is dedicated to disaster preparedness, resources would be directly appropriated to the body without any shifting of blame.
However, MP, Jane Avur (NRM, Pakcwach District) was torn between strengthening of the department of the disaster preparedness in the office of the Prime Minister and creation of the Commission.
“We have a small resource envelope and should not be creating a commission; we are at crossroads because the department we have assigned for the task has continuously failed us,” she said.
The Minister of State for Gender, Hon Peace Mutuuzo urged Parliament to stay the push for the Commission noting that disaster is a key priority area to be managed in the National Development Plan for the next five years.
“We have a plan to enforce mindset change, proactively plant trees and gazette certain areas in order to mitigate climate change and any disaster,” she added.