Disaster response fund in the offing

The Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs (MIDMAR) will soon introduce a legislation that will facilitate the establishment of a Disaster Response Fund.
Homes destroyed by heavy rain in Musanze. The disaster response fund will ensure timely assistance. File.
Homes destroyed by heavy rain in Musanze. The disaster response fund will ensure timely assistance. File.

The Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs (MIDMAR) will soon introduce a legislation that will facilitate the establishment of a Disaster Response Fund.

In an interview, Jean Baptiste Nsengiyumva, the director of disaster risk reduction and preparedness at MIDMAR, said the fund is aimed at improving readiness to handle disasters.

He said that the legislation in form of a Prime Minister’s Order determining organisation and functioning of the Fund has been drafted with a proposed initial budget of Rwf1 billion.

A draft law is currently under scrutiny by Rwanda Law Reform Commission before it is passed onto the next level, according Nsengiyumva.

Nsengiyumva told Saturday Times that for the country’s readiness to respond to any kind of Level 3 and 4 disasters and perform initial recovery, the fund must have a standing budget of Rwf1 billion.

“We have drafted the prime minister’s order which once endorsed will be gazetted and the fund will become operational. It shows how it will work; and sponsoring partners among other prerequisites,” he said.

He explained that the fund is needed because disasters unexpectedly strike when at times government has no ready budget and even other sources of funds such as those from Rwanda Green Fund (FONERWA) cannot immediately be obtained because of a rigorous application process with no guarantee of getting the money.

“We need ready money for robust response to disasters instead of waiting for funds that could take long,” he said.

Among the role of the fund include financing rapid response to disasters, financing rehabilitation of disaster effects, among others.

The fund, which will be kept on an account in the central bank, will be sourced from government, grants from partners and donations according to officials.

“After the declaration of a level three disaster or a level four disaster, the Minister for Finance and Economic Planning authorises the use of the fund upon request of the ministry in charge of disaster,” reads a concept note on the draft law.

It is proposed that in addition to the resources allocated from the state budget, the ministry in charge of disaster management and the ministry in charge of finance and economic planning will mobilise from partners, sponsors and stakeholders.

Call for sustained efforts

Meanwhile, during the handover ceremony, Jeanne d’Arc Debonheur, the minister for disaster management and refugee affairs, said more efforts are also needed in disaster prevention measures and timely support for disaster victims.

“With disaster prevention measures, we must consider that life and valuable property should be protected from disasters and where disasters happen, staff must work hard to ensure timely intervention and recovery,” she said.

The ministry recently said that over 21,000 people need support to rehabilitate their damaged properties at a cost of Rwf453 million yet only Rwf65 million is available for 2017/18 fiscal year.

Officials say that the disaster response fund could help to ensure quick response to disasters.

Figures from MIDIMAR show that in 2016 disasters killed 183 people and injured 172; damaged 82 classrooms , 57 bridges and roads stretching over 100km, 7,449 hectares of crops and killed 2959 livestock.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

 

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