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Disaster policy awaits Cabinet approval

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 3 – A National Disaster Policy could be in place by the end of February if a third attempt to have the Cabinet approve the draft succeeds.

Special Programmes Permanent Secretary, Ali Mohammed on Tuesday said that the Cabinet had rejected the draft twice over disagreements on institutional arrangements.

Addressing journalists after opening a workshop on the policy, Mr Mohammed said that the document review should be completed by Tuesday in readiness for submission to the Cabinet.

“In 2002, the document that we are now discussing was conceptualised and started. Seven years down the line we are still talking of the draft National Disaster Policy. You will agree with me that this is really not acceptable,” the PS stated.

“The Kenyan public are demanding immediate policy guidelines in order to respond to these disasters. I have reached out to Oxfam to help us finalise this document.”

He said the current outbreak of disasters had put into sharp focus the need to prioritise matters of disaster management in the country.

“I want to assure you that there has never been a vacuum even without the policy we have always been responding to disasters,” he said.

“The policy will only give us the clout and hopefully unlock resources from the Treasury.”

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The PS said the draft policy proposed a budget of between Sh5 billion and Sh10 billion annually as a start up fund.

“This policy proposes five percent of the annual GDP to be allocated for disaster management to put in line ministries’ activities on disaster risk reduction,” states part of the draft policy.

The draft also suggests that an enabling system be established to ensure quick and effective response in case of a disaster, noting that there were inadequacies in the capacity for response, because resource procurement was slow during emergencies.

It proposed that all existing funds be harmonised for effective management and use in case of a disaster.

“This policy therefore recommends the establishment of a common basket contingency fund with contributions from all stakeholders, including government budgetary allocation, development partners, UN agencies, private sector, and individual contributions,” it states.

A board of trustees would manage the fund.

The development came in the wake of two fire disasters in less than a week that have so far killed close to 150 people.

The PS expressed optimism that the full implementation of the policy would contribute immensely to disaster risk reduction, effective disaster preparedness, response, recovery and reconstruction as well as contribute to poverty reduction and sustainable development in the country.

“The issue of Internally Displaced Persons, which was not catered for in the previous draft will now be incorporated in the policy because of what we experienced with the post 2007 election crisis,” he said.

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In the draft policy it is noted that disaster impacts had become an impediment to sustainable development in Kenya.

“For example, the 1999 – 2001 drought was the worst in the last 100 years. At its peak in late 2000, 4.5 million people across most parts of the country had lost their livelihood and coping strategies and had to depend entirely on relief food,” it states.

“It is estimated that the response to this drought cost the government and partners $340 million,” said the PS. 

He noted that had there been an effective Disaster Management System in place, half of that amount would have been enough to deal with the situation.


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