Planned Disaster Management Regional Centers to Cost UGX 899 Billion

The Minister for Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees, Hillary Onek says that the government is set to establish 5 regional centers to manage disasters.

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  The Minister for Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees, Hillary Onek says that the Office of the Prime Minister is set to establish 5 regional centers to manage disasters.

  These will cost a total of 899.4 billion Shillings (US Dollars 234million).

  Minister Onek made the statement on Thursday while appearing before Parliament’s Presidential Affairs Committee which is currently inquiring into the government’s interventions in the famine and hunger situation in the Karamoja sub-region.  

  He told MPs that the government had developed a robust disaster risk management plan, which was recently approved by Cabinet to help mitigate impending disasters across the country.

    According to Onek, his Ministry intends to timely confront the disasters through well positioned regional centers in the East, North, South, West and Central. He says that the government has already committed $50 million to establish the response systems.

  He said that the regional centers will enable the government to quickly respond to disasters in different areas and also help prepare the population to respond to risks.

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    Onek also appealed for an independent vote and budget for the Ministry for Relief and Disaster, saying that this will help them respond to disasters. Currently, the Directorate of Disaster Preparedness and Management is managed under the Office of the Prime Minister -OPM.

  The Minister says that this department cannot independently plan adequately for the country, which partly explains the late response by the government to disasters.

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  Catherine Ahimbisibwe, the Acting Commissioner for Disaster Preparedness and Management, told the committee that government has since March this year distributed 2,562,000 kilograms of maize flour and 1,281,000 kilograms of beans as relief food to the affected districts in Karamoja sub region.

With the entire Karamoja having a population of 1.2million, it means on average everyone has received 2 kilos of maize flour and one kilo of beans.

  She also expressed concern over the inadequate funding for disaster preparedness and management as well as the absence of a new fleet of vehicles to ease relief food distribution given the rising number of victims.

  Benjamin Kamukama, the Ruhaama East questioned whether the issue of having a specific vote and Ministry for Disaster had been presented to Cabinet and what the response was.

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  Tonny Awany, the Nyowa County MP also supported the idea of establishing a stand alone Ministry to tackle disasters with an independent budget.

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  Francis Adome, the Moroto Municipality MP called for a sustainable intervention in Karamoja, proposing that the people be empowered to engage more in agriculture. He also said that it was disturbing that the ministry did not have adequate funds to respond to disasters.

  James Mamawi, the Adjumani East MP also urged the government to invest in production as a long-term plan to mitigate famine and hunger in Karamoja.  

Jesca Ababiku, the Presidential Affairs Committee Chairperson proposed that the political and cultural leaders in Karamoja engage local communities in a bid to shape their mindset into productivity and self-reliance. 


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