Tuesday, 06 February 2024 11:42

STRENGTHENING DISASTER RISK MANAGEMENT AT THE COUNTY LEVEL

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The Council of Governors (CoG) organized a three-day consultative meeting for County Executive Committee Members (CECMs) responsible for Disaster Risk Management (DRM) from all 47 County Governments, from 22nd - 24th January 2024, in Mombasa County. This meeting served as a vital platform to discuss the county mandate on DRM, intergovernmental relations, the role of CECMs, and the policy, legal, and regulatory frameworks governing the sector. It also covered national initiatives, projects, and programs being implemented at the county level, and facilitated experience sharing on various pertinent issues.
During the meeting, Chair of the CoG ASALs and DRM Committee, H.E Nathif Jama, highlighted the significant impact of disasters on development, referencing the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction's estimate that disasters cause approximately $250 billion in economic losses globally each year. In Kenya, the recent prolonged drought resulted in over Ksh. 40 billion in expenses. Governor Jama stressed that disasters, especially those linked to climate change, present unprecedented challenges to the nation and emphasized the critical need to strengthen DRM strategies, with County Governments at the forefront.
“It is the County Governments that find themselves in the first line of defense in this battle due to their proximity to the affected communities,” said Governor Nathif Jama.
The meeting underscored the multifaceted responsibilities of counties in DRM, including risk assessment, monitoring, early warning systems, emergency response strategies, evacuation plans, and effective resource mobilization for post-disaster reconstruction and recovery. However, counties face multi-dimensional challenges such as limited resources, weak institutional capacity, policy gaps, centralized decision-making, and inefficient resource allocation at the national level.
Speaking on behalf of CoG CEO Mary Mwiti, Mr. Robert Kiteme, CoG Technical Lead on Agriculture and Livestock Development, reaffirmed the pivotal role of County Governments in Disaster and DRM. “In the face of such adversity, the role of our counties as the first line of defense in disaster risk management becomes ever more critical. Our counties are not just administrative divisions; they are the frontlines where the impacts of these calamities are most acutely felt and where the response is most urgently needed,” said Mr. Kiteme.
An experience-sharing session featuring Garissa and Mombasa Counties on the prolonged drought and the recent floods illustrated that disasters remain complex and necessitate concerted efforts from the Government, Non-Governmental Organizations, development partners, the private sector, and even the community. Counties are continually striving to enhance DRM through initiatives such as setting up County Command Centers, strengthening human resources, resourcing for DRM, and improving collaboration and response times. For instance, during the recent floods, Mombasa County was able to respond to disaster-related cases within five minutes.
Governor Nathif further urged all stakeholders, including National and County Governments and partners, to collaborate in establishing comprehensive, effective DRM systems, emphasizing that DRM is a dynamic process that requires continuous adaptation and improvement.
The meeting was also attended by officials from the National Treasury, State Department of ASALs and RD, NDOC, NDMA, UNDP-Kenya, USAID, Strathmore University, and STAWI.

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