The Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) has told Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that the National Meteorological Authority does not have the capacity to provide accurate warnings about impending disasters.
The National Meteorological Authority-UNMA does not have the capacity to provide accurate warnings about impending disasters, according to Martin Owor, the commissioner for Disaster Preparedness.
Owor says that the Department of Disaster Preparedness relies mainly on data from the World Meteorological Organisation which is shared by countries throughout the region and a Memorandum of Understanding signed with the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to provide satellite images of the country in order to tell which areas are at risk especially in the disaster-prone Mt. Elgon region.
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The statement was made this morning, in response to a question by Lwemiyaga County MP Theodore Ssekikubo on the accuracy of data by the National Meteorological Authority. Ssekikubo observed that quite often, the forecasts are not reliable, a statement which was backed by Nathan Nandala Mafabi, the Chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament.
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Owor emphasized that they do not rely on the National Meteorological Authority but rather international organizations that give them reliable forecasts on disasters. He further said that they have trained District Disaster Management Committees which carry out an assessment and avail it to the OPM to inform their actions on weather changes.
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The matter arose from queries raised by the Auditor-General in his financial year 2017/2018 report. During the year, the office of the Prime Minister received six billion Shillings which was used to procure 2400 metric tons of relief food and assorted items.
Owor told the committee that the ministry can only respond to 40 per cent of emergencies and disasters given the funding limitations they face. He said that whenever they submit relief budgets to the Finance Ministry, they are advised to seek help from development partners.
MPs also raised concerns about the long term sustainability of distribution of relief food and advised that communities be empowered to grow food and improve their livelihoods as Bukedea woman MP Anita Among stresses.