By HOMELAND MEDIA TEAM
Government has developed a robust disaster risk management plan that will mitigate impending disasters across the country, the Minister for Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees, Hon. Hillary Onek, has said.
Onek said that the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) is set to establish five regional centres to manage disasters.
This according to the minister will cost government about US$234 million.
“As government, we have developed a disaster risk management plan which was recently approved by Cabinet. We intend to confront the impending disasters by positioning ourselves regionally so that response does not only come from Kampala,” Onek said.
According to Onek, government has already committed US$50 million to establish these systems of responses to disasters in the country.
He said this on Thursday, 11 August 2022 while appearing before the Committee on Presidential Affairs to provide response on government’s interventions on the distressing famine and hunger situation in Karamoja sub region.
“We plan to have about five regional centres to manage disasters across the country. We shall have regional centres in the East, North, South, West, and Central and will enable us to respond very quickly to any disasters that occur,” Onek said adding that, ’those regional centres will enable us to prepare our population in terms of advocacy and to prepare them to respond to those risks’.
In order to quickly respond to disasters, Onek is rooting for an independent Ministry for Relief and Disaster with a stand-alone vote and budget.
The Directorate of Disaster Preparedness and Management is managed under OPM.
“Our department doesn’t have a Permanent Secretary who is specifically for disaster preparedness. I am not independent and we cannot plan adequately without interference from the conglomerate of ministers [in OPM]…We don’t have a budget; what is put in our name is contingency fund which is three percent of the national budget, but we don’t even see that money,” he said.
According to the Acting Commissioner for Disaster Preparedness and Management, Catherine Ahimbisibwe, government has since March 2022 distributed 2,562,000kgs of maize flour and 1,281,000kgs of beans as relief food to affected districts in Karamoja sub region.
She however, decried inadequate funding towards disaster preparedness and management and lack of a new fleet of motor vehicles to ease relief food distribution due to the rising number of disaster victims.
Moroto Municipality MP, Hon. Francis Adome (Moroto Municipality) called for sustainable intervention in Karamoja that involves empowering the people to engage in agriculture.
“It is disturbing that the ministry does not have money; it should be empowered. Karamoja is rich in terms of fertile soils; all that the people need is to empower them into agriculture,” Adome said.
Adjumani East MP, Hon. James Mamawi, also urged government to invest in production as a long term plan to mitigate famine and hunger in Karamoja and reduce the dependence syndrome on relief food.
The Chairperson of the Committee on Presidential Affairs, Hon. Jesca Ababiku, called for a mindset change in Karamoja where political and cultural leaders engage local communities and shape their mindset into productivity and self-reliance.