KIGALI - A Senatorial Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs on Tuesday unearthed damning information indicating that the government has no clear disaster management policy.
Besides not having a clear policy, the committee also realized that there was no law on disaster preparedness, arising consensus among the lawmakers that the concerned Minister be summoned to explain why the government has not formulated a synchronized disaster management policy.
Presenting the report of his committee’s findings, the chairperson of the committee Valens Munyabagisha, raised concerns over minimal efforts on the part of the government to plan should any form of disaster strike.
“A case in point----there is no action plan for the disaster management unit; it has no budget, no equipment, critically understaffed and it is not established by any law,” said Munyabagisha.
He added that during the survey, his commission was told by the National Police that it is currently working on a policy that will govern preparedness and intervention.
Other concerns raised by Munyabagisha’s committee include the fact that the disaster management unit has been shifting from different government entities from time to time.
The Unit was initially under the Ministry of Local Government before it was shifted to the Prime Minister’s office. Currently, it is in the Ministry of Internal Security under the National Police.
The senatorial committee also found out that many structures around the country do not have the capacity to survive any form of disaster outbreak like earthquakes or fires.
Munyabagisha gave an example of the Parliamentary buildings which do not have emergency exits and fire extinguishers.
He added that during their assessment, the team realized that several funds allocated for intervention during previous disaster outbreaks were poorly managed or embezzled.
According to his report, about Rwf 6.5bn has been channeled to assistance or intervention during disasters but these funds have not served their purpose.
“The reports we found with the authorities were totally contrary to what was on the ground, this is why we have to seek explanations regarding this issue,” said Munyabagisha.
Senators called for an immediate probe into the issue and agreed to establish a senatorial ad hoc committee to scrutinize the matter and come up with a report that would be referred to when a Cabinet Minister is summoned to explain.