NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 7 – The Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) and the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) establishing a partnership on disaster mitigation.
Presiding over the signing ceremony on Tuesday, Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaisserry lauded the initiative by KRCS and KEPSA saying there was need for both the national and county governments to set aside funds for disaster management in order to provide adequate resources to deal with calamities.
Nkaisserry who pointed out measures instituted by the government to cushion Kenyans against the effects of drought, challenged the devolved units to take a cue from the National Government and establish a kitty to cater for famine.
“It will be better for both levels of government together with the private sector to sit down and work on modalities of how we can create capacity in order to respond to disasters — both man-made and natural,” he said.
He noted with concern the manner in which devolved governments have responded to emergencies in the past, adding that most counties were ill-prepared to deal with disasters.
“We don’t have things like tsunami here but I can imagine God forbid a tsunami taking place in this country. What is the capacity of the county government of Mombasa, of Lamu to respond to such a situation,” Nkaisserry posed.
According to the CS, the National Government had taken steps to provide funds to abate the impact of drought with Sh21 billion having been set aside by the Cabinet for drought intervention.
He however said there was need to have specific funding for disaster management to avoid situations where funds allocated for development projects are diverted to emergencies.
“We should have funding for disasters, not just drought,” he said. “We should have a specific fund so that we don’t have to stop other development activities for instance if we have to overdraw on this allocation.”
Nkaisserry lashed out at Council of Governors (CoG) resolution to donate Sh1 million per county to the KRCS to help it respond to the ravaging famine that is said to have affected at least 1.3 million people so far.
He said the contribution was too little to be coming from the county coffers.
“I would have expected the counties to have set aside certain contingencies dedicated to disasters. But how can it be that an entire county government pledges Sh1 million? I thought that could have been from each governor?”
In his remarks, KRCS Secretary General Dr Abbas Gullet said the organisation was targeting to raise Sh1 billion to address humanitarian needs arising from the dry spell that has caused devastating effects in various parts of the country, with mechanisms for disbursements of funds being put in place to relay aid to those affected.
“We’re going to be doing cash transfers using mobile money transfer platforms because we think it’s cheaper and more accountable,” Gullet said adding that food handouts are expensive and pose a logistical challenge.
He further appealed to the public to adopt a family by contributing Sh3,000 a month to be channeled to families facing starvation.
According to Gullet, the partnership with KEPSA presents an opportunity for the private sector to make a difference in disaster management which is key to a conducive environment for businesses to thrive.
“We felt the need to strengthen and structure our partnership, and today’s event has set the foundation that would guide future engagements in disaster risk management between KRCS and the private sector,” he said.
On her part, KEPSA Chief Executive Officer Carole Kariuki said the partnership will facilitate wealth creation since stable socio-economic growth will have a positive impact on businesses.
“Disasters interrupt continuous social and economic growth of a country. Human life is interrupted and the private sector is to unable create wealth and job opportunities,” she noted.
“This engagement will go a long way in shaping up the best way not only to prevent disaster but how well we can work together as private sector, government and other non-state actors ,” Kariuki added.
The joint initiative is expected to reduce the nation’s vulnerability to catastrophes, establish a co-ordinated approach to disaster management and mainstream disaster risk reduction.