Addressing Disaster Risk Reduction

The East African Sub-Region is prone to natural hazards such as floods, droughts, earthquakes, landslides, strong winds, lightning and their secondary impacts of diseases and epidemics. Drought, floods, landslides and epidemics are the most frequent. The region is equally prone to man-made disasters such as urban fires and water pollution. Many countries and communities have realized the need to move from reactive (response actions) disaster risk management which has been based on emergency and crisis management to a proactive (Prevention actions) so as to mitigate disasters before they occur.

Ugandan soldiers and relatives search for victims of a landslide in Bududa in 2010 (Photo: The Guardian)

Ugandan soldiers and relatives search for victims of a landslide in Bududa in 2010 (Photo: The Guardian)

Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) includes all the policies, strategies and measures that can make people, cities and countries more resilient to hazards and reduce risk and vulnerability to disasters.

To address the challenges posed by natural hazards, the EAC Secretariat, with the support of the Japanese government through JICA, developed a Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) Strategy with the mission of facilitating sustainable integration of Disaster Risk Reduction and Management practices into development plans and strategies of EAC Partner States.

Individual EAC Partner States have limitations of resources for coping with the cross-border issues and large scale disasters individually. Cooperation and partnership among the Partner States are indispensable in disaster risk management. The EAC DRRM Strategy provides formulation of the cross-border cooperation/collaboration mechanism among the Partner States.

The EAC Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) Bill 2013 was initiated and introduced to the East African Legislative Assembly as a Private Member’s Bill sponsored by Hon. Patricia Hajabakiga. The objective of the Bill is to provide a regional legal framework for timely intervention and assistance for people affected by natural hazard-related disasters through comprehensive disaster risk reduction and management practices in the East African Community. Currently the Bill is under revision by draft persons and DRR focal persons from the Partner States to conform with the standards of the Regional Bills.

In October 2014 the EAC Secretariat hosted the sixth Africa Working Group on Disaster Risk Reduction. The Africa Working Group provides coordination and technical support to the African Union Commission, Regional Economic Communities, and Member States on the implementation of the Africa Regional Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction (2006-2015), and its programme of action. The Continental strategy also planned for effective African participation in the Third World Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction that will take place in Sendai, Japan, in March 2015.

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