This is the third article on Day 3 of our #IStandWithHaiti series. To read this article, it is important that you read the preceding article.
Checklist points 3 and 4
Do your key sectoral laws incorporate provisions to increase safety and reduce vulnerability?
A single law is never sufficient to address any matter. Other laws must complement it so that it has all the support it needs.
Different laws regarding social welfare, education, natural resource management, environmental protection, climate change, construction, urban planning, land use and many others should have provisions relating to disaster risk reduction.
People should feel safe by knowing that their country has up to-date laws which are based on the country’s risk profile.
The legislator must take care not to duplicate laws at the national and local level. But local laws should be made in such a way that they supplement the national laws. Local laws should, in a way, operationalize the national laws.
Provision must also be made to ensure the implementation of these laws. For example, a special unit in the Police Force or the Armed Forces should be formed and well trained to handle matters relating to disaster and risk management.
Government agencies should be empowered to be able to handle a crisis. Evacuation grounds should be available. Qualified personnel to handle citizens during such crises should be available in the relevant ministry.
According to the ICRC, when answering point 3 on the checklist, these should be the guiding questions:
- Are there provisions that address DRR in relevant sectoral laws and regulations
- Is there any duplication or conflicting provisions between these laws?
- Are sufficient financial resources allocated for implementation of the DRR mandates of sectoral legislation?
When dealing with laws regarding natural resources, some of the guiding questions should be:
- Do your water resource management laws include provisions aiming to reduce the risk of floods and droughts?
- Do your forest or land management laws address risk of forest fires?
When considering different areas of law, particular questions should be well answered. For example, when dealing with the environment, it is important to answer the following guiding questions:
- Do your laws related to the environment require environmental impact assessments for planned developments that include DRR criteria? Climate change must be taken into account.
- Do your environmental laws address natural hazards and the safety of people, their property and livelihoods?
- Do your environmental laws promote the use of eco-system approaches to disaster risk reduction?
- When dealing with laws on climate change, the guiding question should be, does it promote coordination and integration with disaster risk management institutions and systems?
When dealing with laws on land use and planning, on urban development or construction, the following questions should be your guideline:
- Do your laws and regulations on development, planning and construction promote co- ordination with disaster risk management institutions and mechanisms?
- Do your building codes and land use planning regulations cover your entire territory and ensure that priority is given to schools, hospitals and other public buildings?
- Do your laws and regulations include legal sanctions, where appropriate, in cases of non-compliance leading to unsafe buildings or developments?
- Do you have laws related to land use planning or urban development provide improvements in the safety of people living in informal settlements, consistent with their human rights?
Do your laws ensure that sufficient resources are budgeted for disaster risk reduction?
What if disaster risk reduction was integrated into our development plans? What if there was a fund dedicated to DRR? What if private sector establishments in areas that are so prone to risk were to contribute to that fund?
There are always financial challenges when it comes to DRR and DRM. Every time our national budgets are read, risk reduction does not do well. It is always among the losers in budget allocation.
Measures should be put in place to develop financial capacity and independence for ministries concerned with DRM. More so, accountability mechanisms should be put in place to close windows for corruption and misappropriation of funds.
According to the ICRC when tackling point 4, the guiding questions should be:
- Do your laws ensure sufficient resource allocation for DRR, through mechanism such as:
Earmarking percentages in annual budgets?
Mandating budget line items?
Establishing dedicated funds?
- If your laws decentralise responsibilities to sub-national authorities, are there provisions that ensure a commensurate allocation or other means to generate resources for these authorities to fulfill their responsibilities (such as capacity building initiatives or national/local co-funding incentives)?
- Are there measures or provisions in place to reduce implementation challenges for DRR financing, such as ensuring a sustained resource base and reducing competition with response funds?
- Do your laws promote disaster insurance and/or other risk finance mechanisms?
This is it for today. Look out for our next article under this series for points 5 and 6 on the checklist.
BY SAMALI BITALA