Passage of Bill a culmination of several years of work.
East African Legislative Assembly, March 10, 2016; Dar es Salaam, Tanzania: EALA this afternoon passed the Disaster Risk Reduction and Disaster Management Bill, 2013, paving way for the region to take necessary disaster preparedness, management, protection and mitigation measures as well as in handling disasters in a more co-ordinated way.
The Bill sailed through smoothly at the Committee stage with Members adopting clause after clause of the same or with amendments before it came up for Third Reading. Debate on the Bill had commenced yesterday before the Speaker ruled that it be finalised this afternoon.
The Object of the EAC Disaster Risk Reduction and Disaster Management Bill 2013 is to provide a legal framework for the intervention and assistance for people affected by climate change and natural related hazards and to protect the natural environment through integration of comprehensive disaster risk reduction and management practices in the EAC.
The passage of the Bill is a culmination of about two years of work during which time the Assembly has consistently advocated for it.
Debate on the Bill, originally moved for second reading in August 2013, was halted following a request by the Council of Ministers to consult and consider its policy implications. At the same time, the move was to allow for pursuit of the ratification of the EAC Protocol on Peace and Security which among other objectives, provides for co-operation in DRR management and crisis response. The Protocol on Peace and Security has since been ratified by all Partner States.
At the sitting in January 2016 in Arusha, debate was once again adjourned. This was occasioned by a Motion moved by the Chair of the Council of Ministers, Hon Dr. Susan A. Kolimba. The Motion sailed through but after further amendment tabled by Chair of the Regional Affairs and Resolution Committee, Hon Abdullah Mwinyi. under Rule 30(a) to have the Bill brought back to the House at the March Sitting.
The Chairperson of the Committee on Agriculture, Tourism and Natural Resources, Hon Christophe Bazivamo said the Bill anticipates support for both natural and man-made disasters.Yesterday, the Minister for EAC, Republic of Burundi, Hon Leontine Nzeyimana informed the House the Council of Ministers had no objection to the passage of the Bill.
At debate time, Hon Judith Pareno said the Bill had been before the House for a period of two years. “I recall that at time of public hearings and immediately thereafter, we had several disasters including the fire at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, the Central Market in Bujumbura and even the Westgate tragedy”, the legislator said.
“Disasters do not come knocking doors or give notice”, it is necessary that we pass the Bill”, she added.
Hon Mike Kennedy Sebalu said the passage of the Bill was timely so as to mitigate the different disasters that have befallen the region.
“The frequency of disasters that have befallen our Partner States cannot be over-emphasised. We must create an environment that is less of disasters and thus a legal framework is the right way to go, Hon Sebalu noted.
Hon Adam Kimbisa said fire, drought and terrorism were some of the disasters the region continued to face. “All disasters care less about when to occur, where or when to hit,” the legislator said. He remarked that countries in the west had invested better in coping mechanisms than in the continent. “We must equally invest in risk reduction activities”, he added.
Hon Martin Ngoga said the passage of the law was urgent. “It is a reflection of how prepared we are to protect the lives of the citizens”, Hon Ngoga said.
Also rising in support of the debate was Hon Saoli Ole Nkanae, Hon Dora Byamukama, Hon Sarah Bonaya and Hon Valerie Nyirahabineza.
The passage of the Bill whose original mover is Hon Patricia Hajabakiga, is a culmination of a process whose idea began five years ago.In December 2010, EALA Committee on Agriculture Tourism and Natural Resources held key discussions with a delegation from the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR).
The meeting was called to raise awareness within the legislature on the importance of disaster risk reduction as an instrument for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). EALA and UNISDR further agreed to collaborate to develop a model legislation which can be used to support the efforts of the EAC Partner States in building disaster resilience in East Africa.
The next stage is the process of Assent by the EAC Heads of State in line with Article 63 of the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community.