The East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) has endorsed a motion asking the six member states to set up a disaster fund as heavy rain ravages communities across the region.
There was unanimous agreement among all members coming from Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, South Sudan and Burundi.
For months, rain followed by floods and landslides have killed over 250 people and displaced or left homeless more than 3m a few weeks, according to figures published today.
In Rwanda, areas of western province have been hit hard. For the eastern province, hundreds of homes have been blown away by heavy storms. Farmland has not been spared, leaving some communities struggling to find food because their crops were washed away.
Since last week, Kenya lost more than 30 people in a single region in a single day. Villages have been cut off, roads washed away and large sways of land flooded.
South Sudan is hardest hit, according to its delegation to EALA, and it is them that initiated the proposal for a ‘Special Disaster Management Fund’.
The fund will provide emergency relief to victims of natural disasters, and help deal with future occurrences going forward.
Following unexpected unanimous outpouring of support from EALA colleagues, South Sudan’s Kim Gai said: “I am honoured by the EALA, for supporting my motion on setting up Emergency fund to support victims of floods and other natural disasters that have ravaged the region including about 1million in South Sudan.”
“This is step forward in responding to disasters and emergencies.”
Despite being voted through by the lawmakers, the hard work has only started. No specific amount of money has been suggested, and that is left to the Secretariat to work out.
Then the Council of Ministers from the member States have to also turn it into national policy.
After all these processes are done, the Heads of State have to give it a go ahead. At the moment, with cash strapped governments, some unable to even pay EAC dues, it is hard to see how this disaster fund can be financed.
Besides, with the regional animosity currently reigning supreme, members fighting amongst each other, even a Summit is proving impossible to hold.