New Bill seeks to strengthen disaster management

The Chamber of Deputies on Monday began the third quarter of the ordinary sessions by ratifying a committee report on the Bill relating to disaster management.
A village in Kigali devastated by floods in 2011. (File)
A village in Kigali devastated by floods in 2011. (File)

The Chamber of Deputies on Monday began the third quarter of the ordinary sessions by ratifying a committee report on the Bill relating to disaster management.

Presenting the report to Members of Parliament, Julienne Uwacu, the Deputy Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Security, said the draft law aims to strengthen Disaster Management in the country.

“Ebola, fire outbreaks, floods and possible volcanic eruptions, among other disasters, require us to expedite legislation in order to have a disaster management law in place, to allow adequate preparedness, mitigation, prevention, relief, recovery and rehabilitation,” said Uwacu.

This Bill, the first of its kind, aims to protect vulnerable communities in particular.

Once enacted, the law will preserve life and minimise losses and damages by providing sufficient and timely early warning information to the public on potential hazards.

Article 3 of the Bill establishes the National Disaster Management Executive Committee (NDMEC), which will act as the central advisory body in preparing, responding to and recovering from major emergencies.

The committee composition, organisation and functioning shall be determined by the Prime Minister’s Order.

MP Théobald Mporanyi said the Bill should be passed urgently, adding that the committee that was set up to investigate fire outbreaks, should have performed better if they were following guidelines incorporated in the Bill.

Séraphine Mukantabana, the Minister for Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs, however, told legislators that insurance is an appropriate way to tackle effects of disasters.

“When someone is insured, they can easily be compensated as seen by the recent fire accidents that have occurred, unlike someone who has no insurance. We need to sensitise the public on the need for insurance,” she said.

The minister explained that through this Bill, the government is seeking possible ways to control or minimise effects of the disaster.

“We will always be ready and prepared for any emergences. We already have a contingency plan in place in case of disasters,” she said.

The committee report on the disaster management Bill was adopted, pending approval in the consequent plenary sessions.

Natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes, landslides and epidemics, cost the government Rwf1 billion in reconstruction each year, according to figures released earlier this year by the Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugees Affairs.

Figures indicate that natural disasters claim about 100 lives, leave 200 people handicapped, destroy 3,000 houses, damage 3,000 hectares of crops annually while infrastructure – including roads, schools, electricity – are destroyed.

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