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MPs Call for Restoration of EAC Climate Change Unit

The Council of Ministers is now expected to make tangible proposals on how to secure the work undertaken or yet to be done under the EAC Climate Change Programme including the possibility of creating a budget line for the same.
EALA Member Dorah Byamukama
The East African Legislative Assembly has called for the restoration of the Climate Change Unit at the East African Community-EAC, which faced closure last year due to  lack of funds.

The move follows a resolution of the Assembly to invoke Article 59 (3) (B) of the EAC Treaty to revive the EAC climate Change adaptation and mitigation program. The resolution was moved by Kenyan legislator Abubakar Zein, reiterating that following the dissolution of the key unit at the EAC Secretariat, critical work that had being done was interrupted.

The Council of Ministers is now expected to make tangible proposals on how to secure the work undertaken or yet to be done under the EAC Climate Change Programme including the possibility of creating a budget line for the same.

Within the next four months, the Council is expected to table before the Assembly, a comprehensive report on the background to the establishment of the EAC Climate Change Programme circumstances that led to the shutting of the unit and possible negative impacts the Community may suffer.

Contributing to the debate on the Resolution Patricia Hajabakiga, a representative from Rwanda said it was shocking that the Climate Change Unit was closed at a critical time when the EAC and the continent needed to come up with a common position during the negotiations of the Paris declaration.

“Last year the world gathered in Paris, France, to chart the way forward on climate change. Essentially, analysts contend that if not dealt with, climate change would essentially begin to deal with the inhabitants”, Hajabakiga said.

She added that the Assembly had over the last few years passed a total of four resolutions related to matters of climate change. “The Council of Ministers needs to understand that climate change is a major challenge and we must speedily act”, the legislator said.

Dora Byamukama, one of Uganda's representatives said climate change and conducive environment were part and parcel of fundamental rights.

“We should move beyond mitigation to include adaptation, which requires us to look at green housing, irrigation and planting of seeds among others. I plead with the Council of Ministers to take the matter very seriously”, she said.

“We must be able to feed ourselves if we are to sustain our dignity on the face of the earth”, Byamukama added.

Mike Sebalu, another Ugandan legislator said the centrality of integration lay in its trickle-down effect to the people. He remarked that leaders must be strategic thinkers and must prioritize key strategic areas.

“The issue of climate change is critical, topical and on top of the global agenda. Today, it affects critical issues of life and it is important for the region to set exemplary practices and good examples”, he said.

Tanzanian legislator Shyrose Bhanji said without the climate change programmes, the region's environment including flora and fauna would be at risk.

“Let us take an example of Mount Kilimanjaro summit whose ice is diminishing at the moment due to negative climate change. A day may come when the mountain has no ice or water; therefore, there is an acute need to re-establish the unit” Bhanji remarked.

Members also expressed worry over reports that the Sahara desert was moving south towards the EAC region while the water at Antarctica is melting which could lead to a serious case of desertification.

The Third Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for EAC, Al Hajji Ali Kirunda Kivejinja said the Council of Ministers would pay serious consideration to the content of the Resolution. He said deforestation if unchecked would result in consumption of loads of firewood.

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