Government has developed a robust disaster risk management plan that will mitigate impending disasters across the country, the Minister for Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees, Hon. Eng. Hillary Onek has said.
Onek said that the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) is set to establish five regional centers to manage disasters. This according to the minister will cost Government about US$234million.
“As government, we have developed a disaster risk management plan which was recently approved by cabinet. We intend to confront the impending disasters by positioning ourselves regionally so that response doesn’t only come from Kampala,” Onek said.
According to Onek, government has already committed US$50million to establish these systems of responses to disasters in the country. He said this on Thursday while appearing before the Committee on Presidential Affairs to provide response on government’s interventions on the distressing famine and hunger situation in Karamoja sub region.
“We plan to have about five regional centers to manage disasters across the country. We shall have regional centers in the East, North, South, West, and Central. Those centers will enable us to respond very quickly to any disasters that occur. Those regional centers will also enable us to prepare our population in terms of advocacy; to prepare them to respond to those risks,” Onek said.
In order to quickly respond to disasters, Onek is rooting for an independent ministry for relief and disaster with a stand-alone vote and budget. The directorate of Disaster Preparedness and Management is managed under OPM.
“Our department doesn’t have a Permanent Secretary who is specifically for disaster preparedness. I am not independent and we cannot plan adequately without interference from the conglomerate of ministers [in OPM]…We don’t have a budget, what is put in our name is contingency fund which is 3 percent of the national budget, but we don’t even see that money,” he said.
According to the Acting Commissioner for Disaster Preparedness and Management, Catherine Ahimbisibwe, government has since March 2022 distributed 2,562,000kgs of maize flour and 1,281,000kgs of beans as relief food to affected districts in Karamoja sub region. She however decried inadequate funding towards disaster preparedness and management and lack of a new fleet of motor vehicles to ease relief food distribution due to the rising number of disaster victims.