The East African Legislative Assembly (Eala) has agreed to form a regional parliamentary forum on Climate Change aimed at mitigating the effects of climate change.
The decision was reached during a two-day policy dialogue on climate change and gender in Bujumbura, Burundi.
The dialogue sought to identify the role of parliamentarians in the implementation of gender sensitive climate change policies.
“We want the forum to provide leadership for a regional framework on climate change,” said MP Abubakar Zein (Kenya).
MPs pledged to contribute toward the EAC Climate Change Fund (CCF) established by the Council of Ministers in 2010.
Zein said it was critical for partner states to contribute toward the Fund.
“It is not good to have a Fund that we have not contributed to. We should reduce dependence on development partners,” he said.
The dialogue attracted members of the Committee on Agriculture, Tourism and Natural Resources as well as the General Purpose Committee.
A resolution on their proposal will be passed during the next Eala sitting in May.
Apart from pledging to make individual contributions toward the Fund, MPs agreed that climate change be considered in the EAC partner states budgeting process.
MP Leonce Ndarubagiye (Burundi) decried the overdependence on development partners and called for home-grown solutions to climate change.
The effects of climate change, such as floods and drought, have serious and significant impacts on communities, ecosystems and economies.
It was emphasised that climate change impacts men and women in different ways and interventions aimed at addressing its effects must include a gender perspective.
“Women play a critical role in food and nutritional security and are also responsible for growing, buying, selling, and cooking the food,” said MP Valerie Nyirahabineza (Rwanda), the head of the Eala Women Forum.
“Women produce most of the food in developing countries, yet they own only two per cent of the land,” Nyirahabineza said.
The EAC Secretariat and the East African Development Bank are in the process of applying to be implementers of the Climate Change Adaptation Fund, an international Fund that finances projects and programmes aimed at helping developing countries adapt to climate change, and Green Climate Fund (GCF).
The latter is a fund under the auspices of the UN Frame work Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that aims at supporting developing countries in adaptation and mitigation practices to counter climate change.
MPs also agreed to breathe life into their earlier pledge, for each Eala Chapter to plant 50,000 trees in their respective partner states by 2017.
“We have to look back and revive what worked before and has since been abandoned,” said MP Mike Sebalu (Uganda).
The lawmakers called on partner states to promote environmental friendly practices such as the use of renewable energy like biogas and solar power, water harvesting, and irrigation.
They also called for the finalisation of the draft EAC Disaster Risk Reduction Bill which they say is required for timely response to climate change induced disasters in the region that are increasing in intensity and frequency.
In the region, climate change related hailstorms in the recent past hit Kahama while floods hit Dar es Salaam in March, claiming lives and displacing hundreds of people.