UNICEF Supports Preparedness as Uganda Loses Sh567B in Disasters

The Minister for Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees, Engineer Hilary Onek on Thursday stunned Parliament with the status report on the Uganda’s Disaster situation which indeed looked bleak. He told the legislators that last year disasters caused a loss of 563.23 Billion Shillings while nearly quarter a million people have so far been affected directly by the disasters since this year started.

Uganda has been affected by torrential rains that led to flash flooding and rising water levels in various parts of the country. This led to the flooding of human settlements and other livelihood activities in different parts of the country.

“But while the government is still struggling to resettle the affected communities since 2020,” Onek said, “scores remain either in displacement or at high risk because a slight increase in rainfall always triggers a rise in water levels.”

He added that as the country prepares for the second rainy season, Kabale, Kasese, Bundibugyo and Ntoroko districts are already experiencing a mixture of floods and landslides that are affecting.

That is the bad news. The good news is that something is being done about it. The government with its partners is working towards building robust disaster preparedness systems and structure so that the damage and losses are minimized. UNICEF, a key supporter of the process, has taken the initiative where it rightfully belongs, to the ground where the people are and the solutions should be found.

As the countryside was getting the worst battering from the elements in a long time a couple of years back, UNICEF did an assessment that pointed at the great need for capacity building, and made a proposal that the Japanese government agreed to fund. Subsequently partnered with the Uganda Red Cross Society to implement the capacity building for the Office of the Prime Minister under whose docket disaster issues fall.

The country’s official policy now requires all districts to make a contingency plan for disaster as part of the district development plan. In reality though, at the start of the 2021 – 25 development cycle only about ten districts have a ready plan for disaster management. The plan is supposed to be drawn by the District Disaster Management Committee –DDMC which comprises departmental heads, subcounty administrators and leaders. But the DDMCs are largely still dormant. So efforts are under way to activate them through training. UNICEF is already working with URCS and OPM in Madi Okollo and Obongi in West Nile, Bundibugyo and Kasese in the western and Karenga and Moroto in the Karamoja sub-region to develop their capacity for emergency response to disasters.

Most of Uganda’s disasters result from weather extremities, disease outbreaks and refugees. Experts facilitate weeklong trainings in the district, at the end of which the DDMC members come up with the district contingency plan. Once approved by the key agencies namely the ministry for local government and for finance, the plan becomes part of the of the district development plan, gets incorporated in the annual budget.

The plan is a key document for Advocacy as many stakeholders need to be brought on board; for coordination as different resources and capabilities are found with different stakeholders, for Budgeting, for Implementation, for Monitoring and for Reporting.

UNICEF supports and continues to support the capacity building process for disaster preparedness because of the belief in the formula that for every dollar invested in preparedness, seven dollars are saved in response.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *