This article is in continuation of the article The Law and Natural Disasters, which is about Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and Disaster Risk Management (DRM), under our #IStandWithHaiti series. It is the 2nd in the series.
Checklist points 1 and 2
Do you have a dedicated law for disaster risk management that prioritizes risk reduction and is tailored to your country context?
Most of our governments are decentralized. In Kenya, power is decentralized to the county level. In Uganda, the government is decentralized to the district.
On the national level, disaster risk management policies and legislation should set out the key principles to be adopted in the many areas that arise when there is a risk of a natural hazard and when it actually happens. Such key principles should revolve around:
- recognizing rights of affected individuals
- assigning responsibilities to relevant bodies from the national to the local level
Consideration should be made to the country’s risk profile. For example, if it were about the fear of a tsunami kind of disaster, Kenya should be better prepared than a country like Rwanda should be. To see your countries risk profile, click here.
More concern should be given to the risk management capacity in place. Do we have persons who are qualified and trained in risk management? Are people in a risk prone area sensitized about the potential risk and how to deal with it? Are there any disaster preparedness measures in place at a local level?
According to the International Crescent of the Red Cross, these should be the guiding questions:
- Does your DRM law set out key principles and priorities guiding the country’s approach to disaster risk reduction?
- Are these principles reflected throughout the text of the act?
- Does your DRM law create links with any legislation and institutions related to climate change adaptation?
- Does your DRM law establish links with any key sectoral laws?
- Does your DRM law include ways to measure success and implementation?
- Subject to your risk profile, do you have laws and regulations on disaster risk management? On emergency management? On specific hazards such as a law on storms, floods, landslides, seismic protection/earthquakes? Fire? Drought?
Do your laws establish clear roles and responsibilities related to risk reduction for all relevant institutions from national to local level?
Effective laws are unambiguous. Relevant ministries are assigned clear tasks and responsibilities for their implementation.
The highest level of authority should be at the national level. This is to ensure that there is effective coordination and promotion of disaster risk reduction activities under the different arms of the ministry.
The relevant authorities at the local level should also be mandated to exercise certain authority. They should also be facilitated with the necessary resources to carry out their mandate and responsibilities.
The law should provide for creation of disaster risk reduction capacities and establishment of coordination mechanism for collaboration and other issues in risk management.
Again, according to the ICRC, the guiding questions should be:
- Do your laws mandate a national focal point agency for disaster risk reduction with sufficient institutional authority to exercise effective leadership?
- Do your laws ensure cooperation and information exchange between relevant ministries and levels government with the national focal point agency?
- Do your laws appoint a national inter-ministerial/multi-sectoral committee with a clear mandate for disaster risk reduction and ensure that it meets frequently enough to be effective (i.e. not just in the aftermath of a disaster)?
- Are institutions from national to local level consistently assigned the necessary authority and resources to carry out their mandates and responsibilities?
- Is the division of responsibilities made sufficiently clear between different ministries and levels of government?
To follow the series, read the next article on checklist points 3 and 4.
BY SAMALI BITALA