Disaster risk management financing: Where should Uganda’s focus be?

What you need to know:

  • Scale up investment in environmental protection: Uganda is currently hosting about 1.4 million refugees. The influx of refugees in Uganda has highly affected the environment since they heavily depend on natural resources to meet their basic needs such as shelter, land for agriculture and energy for cooking.

According to the 2020 annual state of disaster report, natural disasters caused Uganda an economic loss amounting to Shs563 billion. This translates into 0.4 percent of GDP lost due to natural disasters. This loss was distributed across key sectors namely, transport and infrastructure sector mainly roads and bridges – Shs206.73 billion, commercial and residential housing – Shs154.21 billion, Agriculture – Shs77.37 billion, Education – Shs35.44 billion, Environment and Natural Resources – Shs33.75 billion, Health – Shs31.86 billion and Water and Sanitation – Shs23.88 billion.

Furthermore, the latest update of the inform Risk Index, which is a multi-stakeholder forum for developing shared, quantitative analysis relevant to humanitarian crises and disasters, ranks Uganda at 21 out of a total of 190 countries analysed worldwide in terms of risk driven by the increasing frequency, intensity and scale of disasters. Without adequate relief funding, these disasters present a risk of backsliding against development gains and achievement of the SDG targets.

In terms of financing, there has been a decline from Shs4.55 billion in FY2019/20 to Shs4.23 billion in FY2020/21 in the budget allocation to the disaster preparedness and refugees management sub programme budget in the Office of the Prime Minister. Relatedly there was a slight decline in the humanitarian assistance sub programme from Shs12 billion in FY2019/20 to Shs11.46 billion in FY2020/21.

What needs to be considered in the forthcoming planning and budgeting process of FY2023/24?

Operationalisation of the Contingencies fund: Section 26 of the PFMA 2015 (as amended) provides that a Contingencies Fund shall every financial year be replenished with an amount equivalent to 0.5 percent of the appropriated annual budget of government of the previous financial year. The OAG report 2021 noted that Parliament only appropriated Shs62 billion to the fund, causing a deficit of Shs140.3 billion. Government should therefore secure and explore ways of ring-fencing the funds meant for the Contingencies fund in accordance to the stipulations in the PFMA act 2015 (as amended).

Strengthening the legal framework to manage natural disasters: The National Disaster Preparedness and Management Policy (2011) provides a basis for the formulation of a Comprehensive Disaster Management legal framework that will aid implementation of the policy. The Office of the Prime Minister needs to expedite the process of approval of the National Disaster Preparedness and Management Bill to enable the responsible ministries, departments and agencies attain the legal mandate towards disaster risk management.

Enhance capacity of Disaster Risk Response and Management structures: Among the service delivery challenges observed by the Auditor General’s 2021 report was non-functional District Disaster Management Committees. The Office of the Prime Minister needs to support the lower Local Government in establishing, orienting and operationalising them to ensure they are able to conduct rapid assessments, collect disaster data and report timely.

Scale up investment in environmental protection: Uganda is currently hosting about 1.4 million refugees. The influx of refugees in Uganda has highly affected the environment since they heavily depend on natural resources to meet their basic needs such as shelter, land for agriculture and energy for cooking. In order to boost environmental protection and mitigate the likely negative and irreversible effects of environmental degradation, government needs to continually sensitise the population and invest more in interventions that are aimed at promoting sustainable land use and energy-saving technology.

Disasters significantly undermine economic development given the effects they have on communities and economies at large. There is therefore need for disaster mainstreaming into government ministries, departments, agencies and Local Government programmes. This can only be fully effective if engrained in the law, as adopted by the National Policy for Disaster Preparedness and Management.

Mitchell Ainebyoona,     Economist                           [email protected]  

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