Regional member countries experience a range of disasters both natural and man-made.

These disasters adversely impact on lives, livelihood and property. It is appreciated that participating countries have developed infrastructure to deal with some of these emergencies but continuing challenges in the economies and the environment itself require bold measures to be taken cutting across national and regional capabilities to comprehensively address these problems. These threats include and are not restricted to the following:

Drought and Desertification

Drought is a recurrent phenomenon that affects large areas and large populations in the region. The cumulative effects of these droughts include the erosion of assets, decreasing ability to cope with future droughts, impoverishment of rural communities and depletion of the Government resources.

Major causes of drought and desertification are deforestation, extreme climate variations and improper land use, which threaten the environment and people’s livelihoods.

Key to addressing drought related problems is formulation of a national and regional policies and factoring of weather forecast in development planning, programmes and strategies.

It is, therefore, a priority of the participating countries to initiate drought preparedness, mitigation and response structures.

Floods

Floods cause disasters in the region. Most countries in the region are susceptible to floods and semi-arid areas of the region also experience flash floods. In 1997/98 the El Nino phenomenon affected many parts of region causing damage worth millions of shillings, loss of lives, famine and waterborne diseases. With inadequate preparation for the El-Nino floods, national resources were over-stretched in the response phase.

Landslides

It is estimated that property worth millions of dollars which includes coffee, tea plantations and domestic animals have been destroyed by landslides in most countries.

Losses caused by landslides also have a major negative impact on infrastructure such as power transmission, water supplies and irrigation facilities.

All participating Countries are encouraged to undertake hazard risk mapping in all disaster prone areas as key to addressing all potential natural disasters.

Earthquakes and Volcanic Activity

The Great Rift Valley runs through the region and makes it one of the most earthquake prone areas of the world. The area is particularly prone to Earthquakes and Volcanic activity. Although the damage and casualties have so far been low, recent records of minor, but frequent seismic activities should be closely monitored.

There are inadequate seismological stations in the region and taking into account recent experience and lack of seismic data in this region, there should be an extension of seismic network in the region.

Member countries will need to explore means to enhance the knowledge in seismic studies through research, monitoring and evaluation in the relevant institutions and regional, international and professional networking.

Industrial Hazards and Pollution

Mining accidents, oil spills, radiation, air and water pollution, as well as accidents involving chemicals are all hazards. The risk of fires and explosions is also present in industrial centres as is the case with fuel storage depots. Other hazards are posed from disposal of waste oils, lubricants and chemicals.

Member countries need to support the private sector’s initiatives to raise awareness on the causes of industrial disasters given that the private sector plays a major role in mitigation and response.

In order to prevent industrial disasters, the regulatory framework under which industry and housing operates needs to be reinforced.

Transport Accidents

Shipping, train, aviation, and road accidents occur in the region and many people are killed or injured annually due to these accidents. The governments have taken great concern over these accidents and have instituted measures to bring the situation under control. Enforcement of legislative measures need to be taken to discourage human settlements in and around airports, ports and road reserves.

Drugs and Alcoholic Beverages Abuse

Uncontrolled drugs and alcoholic beverages abuse cause degradation of human resources, people’s productivity and hamper the growth of the national economy. It is linked to violence, HIV/AIDS scourge, upsurge of crimes, disturbances in learning institutions, high expenditures on health and security, family dis-harmonies and threatens to completely tear apart social and moral fabrics.

Commonly abused drug substances include various brands of alcoholic liquors (licit and illicit), tobacco, bhang (cannabis sativa), Miraa (khat), inhalants such as glue and self- prescribed of medical drugs.

Diseases and Epidemics

HIV/AIDS is a major pandemic affecting the region and other extreme outbreaks of diseases and epidemics include; Cholera, Malaria, Typhoid, Meningitis, Tuberculosis and Food Poisoning. Continuous surveillance against the extremely lethal viral hemorhagic fevers such as Ebola, Yellow Fever, Rift Valley Fever, the Marbug, SARS and Avian Flu need to be enhanced.

All member countries are encouraged to continue to undertake preventive and control measures against such disease outbreaks.

Livestock Diseases

The major animal diseases in the region are Rift Valley fever, rinderpest, anthrax and foot and mouth. These diseases affect not only livestock but also wildlife and by extension the tourism industry. The diseases hinder the countries from engaging in international trade in livestock and livestock products. This disaster has also caused impoverishment to a sizeable population in the Region.

Member countries need to continue to undertake the necessary control and preventive measures to enhance disease surveillance, control and eradication of any other emerging diseases.

Lightning strikes

Lightning often destroys property and lives. It is a natural hazard resulting from the discharge of static electricity generated in parts of storm clouds. Lightning has disastrous effects causing death to human beings, animals, and destruction of buildings, telecommunication, power installations and electronic systems.

Policies need to be generated to pursue strategies that will promote risk reduction technologies particularly formulation of a code of practice for protection of structures from lightning attacks in addition to erecting arresters in strategic places.

Pest Infestation

Terrorism is an act that may trigger disaster and is very difficult to prevent. Urban areas are constantly under the threat of terrorism. The August 1998 bomb blast in Nairobi and Dar es salaam which killed 214 people, injured 5,600 and the Kikambala Paradise Hotel bombing of 28th November 2002 which killed 15 people with colossal impact on lives, property and tourism.

These incidents highlight the need for improvement in surveillance and basic response capabilities by all concerned, notably, the military, the police, fire fighters, ambulances and transportation systems.

The Participating Countries are encouraged to establish systems that can manage such disasters efficiently and increase the capacity to respond to rapid-onset disasters that are difficult to predict.

Civil Conflict

Instability in economies and Government structures around the region have resulted in an influx of asylum seekers and easy access to illicit arms which exacerbates internal conflicts over control of natural resources particularly among the pastoral communities in the region. The conflicts contribute to internally displaced persons (particularly women and children), disruption of lives, reduced capacities for improved livelihoods and acceleration of poverty.

At a national level, measures need to be taken to institutionalize conflict sensitivity in planning with structures created to coordinate peace efforts.

Tsunami

The Indian Ocean countries are exposed and suffer from seismological varying extreme sea patterns. These activities massively contributing to tsunami effects have contributed to loss of lives, property and tourism and economic activities in the region.

Therefore Participating Countries are encouraged to invest in early warning systems and produce plans to mitigate tsunami effects.

It is further recommended that adequate efforts be made to implement international instruments on Tsunami.

Djibouti, Kenya, Tanzania, Seychelles lying along the Indian Ocean suffered the 2004 Tsunami disaster and therefore need for implementing regional and international instruments to mitigate the effects.

Other Hazards

The region faces other hazards to its social and economic development requiring equal attention which include:

  • Water hyacinth.
  • Frost, fog, strong winds and hailstones.
  • Street families and orphans.
  • Technological hazards.
  • Oceanic shoreline changes and the likely effects on the environment and settlements.
  • Dumping of hazardous waste
  • Landmines