Adella Mbabazi
March 31, 2015

The East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) has agreed to form a regional Parliamentary Forum on Climate Change.

The proposal was made during a policy dialogue on Climate Change and Gender for members of EALA to identify the role of parliamentarians in implementation of gender sensitive climate change policies.

Flags for East Africa Community Countries
Flags for East Africa Community Countries

The dialogue held on 27th and 28th March, 2015 in Bujumbura, Burundi, was organized by the EAC Secretariat in partnership with the EALA Women Forum. It was also attended by the EALA Committee on Agriculture, Tourism and Natural Resources and the General Purpose Committee.

“We need to establish a parliamentary forum on Climate Change for EALA so that it can feed into the global parliamentary forum and also provide leadership in the regional framework on climate change,” said MP Abubakar Zein. The resolution on this proposal will be passed during the next EALA sitting in May.

The impact of Climate Change is most severe for the world’s poor and marginalized communities who often live in stressed environments and have fewer means for coping. Women are especially vulnerable because of their limited access, control and ownership over resources, unequal participation in decision and policy-making, lower incomes and levels of formal education and high workloads.

As such climate change impacts men and women in different ways and interventions aimed at addressing climate change impacts must include a gender perspective.

Valerie Nyirahabineza, the leader, EALA Women Forum, stressed that Africa is most vulnerable to climate change and noted that the region’s communities and governments are sometimes constrained to handle challenges of climate change. “Women play a critical role in food and nutrition security and are also responsible for growing, buying, selling, and cooking the food.

Climate change is behind the increasing frequency of extreme weather hazards in Africa
Climate change is behind the increasing frequency of extreme weather hazards in Africa

Majority of food produced in developing countries is by women, yet only 2% of land is owned by women,” she said. She added that there was need for the legislators to address the underlying causes of gender inequality such as unequal land rights and land tenure through legislative reforms.

Speaking during the same session, MP Dora Byamukama noted, “Unless women feel secure as users and owners of land, there will always be a problem of climate change.”

The parliamentarians agreed that climate change be considered in the EAC Partner States budgeting process, and pledged to make individual contributions to the Fund. The Climate Change Fund was established in 2011.

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