East african community (eac) legislators have called on Partner States to work towards ensuring adequate preparedness in light of climate change effects.
In a key policy report on climate change and gender adopted last week, the lawmakers said early warning systems and modalities for flood and drought control needed to be treated as a priority.
Presented during the last session of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) sitting in Kampala, Uganda, the report came at a time of a looming El Niño, predicted by scientists.
Earlier, while debating the report, MP Valerie Nyirahabineza (Rwanda) suggested that EALA could champion the importance of a climate change fund.
EALA also called on the Secretariat to invest in climate and disaster focused research and tools to boost the preparedness of the bloc.
Presented by the chairperson of the Agriculture, Tourism and Natural Resources Committee, MP Christophe Bazivamo (Rwanda), the report called on the five EAC Partner States to integrate climate change advocacy and disaster risk reduction into development programmes.
Bazivamo noted that women have a great role to play in addressing climate change issues at national, regional and international levels.
“Primarily, they [women] constitute the majority of the world’s poor and are more dependent (for their livelihood) on natural resources that are threatened by climate change,” Bazivamo said.
Furthermore, he said, women face socio-economic and political barriers that limit their coping capacity, particularly in the rural areas where they are more vulnerable by virtue of being highly dependent on local natural resources for their livelihood and yet they own less than 2 per cent of land.
MP Dr Odette Nyiramirimo (Rwanda) said with the approaching rainy season, it would be desirable for every EAC citizen to plant at least one tree starting September.
The Committee also wants Partner States to invest in eliminating the underlying causes of disasters, embrace early warning systems, and enforce awareness campaigns in order to reduce vulnerability.
Besides asking the Council of Ministers to fast-track the Disaster Risks Reduction Bill (2014), the Committee urged Partner States to identify, develop and implement gender-sensitive strategies to respond to the environmental and humanitarian crises caused by climate change.
It also called on EAC nations and the Council of Ministers to ensure that funding for climate change does not depend on donors.
The EAC Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Control Bill (2014) is under consultation while work has commenced on the EAC Climate Change Bill and a Climate Change Fund.
MP Agnes Mumbi Ng’aru (Kenya) said: “We have the Disaster Risk Reduction Bill pending before the House. It needs to be brought forth immediately by the Council of Ministers.”
The lawmakers have previously cited limited financial, institutional and technical resources such as: human resources capacities; lack of legal regimes for enforcement, donor dependence, weak public awareness and communication among the challenges to the implementation of climate change initiatives in the region.