International Day for Disaster Reduction marked in Nanyuki, Kenya

International Day for Disaster Reduction marked in Nanyuki, Kenya

By James Ratemo, @KenyaCurrent jratemo@gmail.com

As the world marks the International Day for Disaster Reduction, Kenya will make a major declaration national-disaster-risk-reduction-symposium-declaration in Nanyuki on the country’s preparedness.

This comes in the wake of the country’s push to have a legal framework of managing disasters.

Disaster management stakeholders have been attending the fourth National symposium for Disaster Reduction (October 11th -12th 2016) at the Sportman’s Arms Hotel in Nanyuki.

This is the fourth symposium bringing together government and partners to assess the country’s preparedness to handle disasters.

This is especially key with the new threat of terrorism which has threatened peace in the leading East African economy.

The World Bank has also revealed that Kenya can now access a special disaster fund if it puts in place a legal framework to manage disasters.

The fund, technically known as Catastrophe Draw Down Option (Cat DDO), is only open to middle-income countries and Kenya is legible to access the funds if it puts its house in order.

The World Bank announced it has started working with the Government of Kenya to set up the “contingent financing instrument for disaster response – a Development Policy Loan with a Catastrophe Draw-Down Option.”

Thanks to its imminent transition to middle income country, Kenya will be the second African country to access this financial product.

According to World Bank, by providing rapid liquidity in the event of a national emergency, the Cat DDO will greatly enhance the government’s ability to respond to crises,” a bank official said.

This work is part of a broader engagement on resilience between the World Bank and the Government of Kenya and complements national efforts to enhance resilience, including the proposed Disaster Risk Management Bill sponsored by Honourable Tiyah Galgalo, MP for Isiolo County.

The Cat DDO is like a credit card that you only use if need be. Through the facility Kenya can access between US$100million and US$150million meaning in case of a disaster the country can use the funds to rebuild without having to interfere with its development budget.

“At the World Bank, we are pleased to be working to set up a contingent credit line that will provide the Government access to much needed financial resources in the aftermath of a disaster. Ultimately, this will reduce the negative impacts of disasters on the people and economy of Kenya,” says Eric Dickson, Senior Disaster Risk Management Specialist at the World Bank and project lead for the Cat DDO.

“The establishment of a clearly defined institutional structure for disaster risk management is key for Kenya as it steps up efforts to enhance resilience to the growing impacts of disasters” said Francis Muraya, Senior Disaster Risk Management Specialist at the World Bank.

“By creating a platform for improved coordination among the various actors working on risk management and crisis response, the proposed Bill will be instrumental in the successful implementation of the new contingent loan we are preparing,” adds Mr. Muraya.

Mr. Muraya said Kenya should swiftly take up the opportunity as an insurance against catastrophic disasters.

“When a country is hit by a major disaster, World Bank offers liquidity for it to rebuild and stabilize,” explains Mr. Muraya.

In Africa, it is only Seychelles that has accessed the funds and Cape Verde is in the process of signing up.

Other countries that have benefited from this facility include the Philippines.

“This is good for Kenya but it must have a legal framework on how to handle disasters to access this financial instrument,” adds Mr. Muraya.

Kenya is no longer considered a developing country but a middle income country following the rebasing of its GDP.

Already Isiolo County Women Representative Tiyah Ali Galgalo is sponsoring a bill that will see Kenya edge closer to fulfilling the requirements.

The Disaster Risk Management Bill, 2016, is at National Assembly committees stage after which it will become law if it sails through the remaining process.

The bill envisions to establish a National Disaster Risk Management Authority and a special fund to replace the current system where many agencies are involved in handling disasters in an uncoordinated manner.

A key item in the declaration on Thursday is to push for the bill to be passed and secure the country’s opportunity to access the World Bank’s CAT DDO facility.

According to Col Nathan Kigotho, Director, National Disaster Operations Centre (NDOC), Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government, the bill is a welcome move, which is long overdue.

It will see Kenya access the World Bank disaster kitty (CAT DDO) which will act like an insurance policy against major disasters.

“We now have a policy and the bill which must be presented to the cabinet for approval so that the Interior Ministry can forward it to Parliament for debate and passing.”

The National Disaster Management Authority will be in a good position to handle all stages of disaster right from mitigation, response and recovery.

Currently there is no proper funding for preparedness and NDOC often responds to disasters when it is often too late.

“We do not have a proper organisational framework. Our centre (NDOC) is inadequate since we have to depend on other players whom we have to mobilise,” he adds.

“The Bill creates an organizational structure with budget from exchequer, as it stands NDOC gets financing from the Interior Ministry and the allocation is never enough. The Bill will also show what Counties’ roles and responsibilities are in management of disasters,” says Col Kigotho.

According to the Kenyan Constitution, management of disasters is a shared responsibility between the national and county governments.

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