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Environment & Natural Resources

Climate Change and Globalization likely in increase the outbreak of epidemics

East African Community Secretariat; Bujumbura, Burundi; 03 April 2017:
Climate change, globalization, increased human-animal interactions, anti-microbial resistance and gaps in national healthcare systems are the most likely factors to increase the outbreak of epidemics in East Africa.

Professor Japhet Killewo, of the Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences in the United Republic of Tanzania, said that the world today was changing at an alarming rate with populations living with disease outbreaks, epidemics and pandemics.

Prof. Killewo said that times were also changing with countries increasingly experiencing a rapid increase in natural and man-made disasters.

Prof. Killewo said that countries within the EAC region and other parts of Africa were simply not prepared for the next epidemic.

“When an epidemic strikes, before we know it, people start dying and when the healthcare system attempts to handle the situation, healthcare workers too, start dying, and suddenly there is no one to handle the situation. Healthcare systems become paralyzed,” said Prof. Killewo, alluding to the Ebola outbreak which swept across West Africa three years ago.

Prof. Killewo was giving the keynote address themed Preparedness for, and control of Disease Outbreaks, Epidemics and Pandemics, in the Context of Climate Change, Globalization and Gaps in Health Systems during the 6th East African Health and Scientific conference held in Bujumbura, Burundi from 29th – 31st March, 2017.

Prof. Killewo attributed the continent’s epidemic unpreparedness to the inability by national surveillance systems that identify disease pathogens and/or track cases of disease to execute their mandates effectively.

“Our health infrastructure is also very poor. During the Ebola outbreak in 2014, fewer people accessed healthcare services because of fear, and more people died from malaria, HIV and TB,” said the medic.

However, Prof. Killewo said that all was not lost citing World Health Organisation statistics over the years indicating declining mortality, decreasing mortality of child under five years of age, decreasing cases of malaria and measles not just in Africa but the world as a whole.

Prof. Killewo warned that global warming – an increase in the average atmospheric temperature which is sufficient to cause climate change – was on the rise. He described climate change as a transformation in global or regional climate patterns, attributed largely to the increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by the use of fossil fuels.

“Some of the effects of climate change include rising seas, changes in rainfall patterns, drought and flooding, and the more frequent spread of diseases. These diseases include mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria, Dengue fever and encephalitis, and water-borne diseases such as cholera,” he said, adding that climate change would increase pressure on food security pushing more people to alternative food sources where they encounter new diseases.

He disclosed were coming up fast due to the rising global population, a surge in animal meat consumption, dramatic increases land use and agriculture, accelerated encroachment on natural habitats for wildlife, increased demand for natural resource.

“All the above conditions collectively conspire to increase the frequency of interactions between people, their domestic animals and wildlife and the opportunities for new diseases to emerge,” said Prof. Killewo.

Prof. Killewo said that globalization had resulted in world travel which ensures that nothing was local anymore allowing diseases to spread very fast across borders.

“People, animals and environment have converged and new, deadly disease have emerged.”

Prof. Killewo revealed that a new global health paradigm called ‘One Health’ or ‘Eco-Health’ had been formulated to promote sectoral collaboration. The paradigm paves the way for preparedness, prevention, detection and response to these diseases.

The university don noted that the world was currently witnessing the 5-8 Emerging Infectious Diseases (EIDs) per year, with number projected to increase to 30 new EIDs by the year 2030.

He warned that common diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and cholera will no longer be treatable due to anti-microbial resistance (AMR). He said epidemics of these diseases were already occurring at alarming rates but added that AMR could be prevented.

On preparedness to tackle epidemics and EIDs, Prof. Killewo said medical practitioners must use “Risk-Based” Models to Target Surveillance.

“The origins of newly emergent diseases have been found to strongly correlate with specific geographic areas, animal hosts, microbial agents and “high risk” populations.”

He said that the geographical distribution or home range of fruit bats corresponds with countries which have experienced Ebola outbreaks.

He described ‘high risk’ populations as people with high levels of exposure to wild animals such as hunters, butchers, traders and consumers of wild game; settlers and domestic animals near wildlife areas, and; loggers, miners, road builders.

“Using these “risk-based” models we will be better prepared to prevent, detect and respond to these potential epidemics and pandemics.”

He disclosed that WHO had developed several guidelines for preparedness of epidemics/pandemics. The WHO guidelines involve four steps: Pre-epidemic preparedness; Alert Phase; Outbreak, Response and Containment Operations, and; Post-epidemic evaluation to help encounter the next wave of epidemic.

“The good news is most emerging pandemic threats are preventable if we can start from the animal world where these viruses may exist even without causing any diseases among them.”

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For more information, please contact:

Mr Owora Richard Othieno
Head, Corporate Communications and Public Affairs Department
EAC Secretariat
Arusha, Tanzania
Tel: +255 784 835021
Email: OOthieno [at] eachq.org

About the East African Community Secretariat:

The East African Community (EAC) is a regional intergovernmental organisation of five Partner States, comprising Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, with its headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania.

EALA Adjourns Debate on Polythene Materials Control Bill

East African Legislative Assembly; Kigali, Rwanda; 16 March 2017:
EALA has adjourned the enactment of the EAC Polythene Materials Control Bill 2016 in order to allow more room for consultations. The Motion for adjournment of the Bill was moved by the Chair of Council of Ministers and Deputy Minister of EAC, United Republic of Tanzania, Hon. Dr Susan Kolimba under Rule 30 (c ) of the Rules of Procedure of the Assembly.

The Minister moved the Motion in order to allow for further scrutiny of various amendments, as well as the incorporation of views of the apex body of the Private Sector, the East African Business Council. In addition, the time allows for the views of the United Republic of Tanzania to be incorporated.

The Bill whose mover is Hon. Patricia Hajabakiga aims at providing a legal framework for the preservation of a clean and healthy environment through the prohibition of manufacturing, sale, importation and use of polythene materials. The Bill was re-introduced afresh during the Sitting held in August 2016 in Arusha, Tanzania.

Hon. AbuBakr Ogle said while there was need to protect the environment the region must look at the bigger picture, he said while citing statistics from the global green environment movement.

“Polythene bags take a month to decompose, plywood 1-3 years, cigarette butts 10-12 years and soapwood for example take between one to three years, while plastic containers may take as many as 50-80 years to degrade,” he said.

“The business community under EABC have some good proposals on the way forward. It is only fair that we listen to them”, he said.

“The Bill as currently constituted does not fully capture the essence of the views of stakeholders. Let us give it more time,” he added.

Even as the motion for adjournment sailed through, a preceding report indicated that Partner States are indeed in support of the Bill. However, polythene manufacturers especially in the Republics of Kenya and Uganda while understanding the concerns of the Committee of Agriculture, Tourism and Natural Resources, are taken aback by the heavy investments they have put in the sector.

Addressing the House, the Chair of the Committee on Agriculture, Tourism and Natural Resources, Hon. Valerie Nyirahabineza observed there were best practices with regard to alternatives of plastic bags like banana materials used in the Republics of Burundi and Rwanda which can emulated in the entire region.

Chapter 19 of the Treaty for the EAC enjoins Partner States to co-operate in all issues of environmental and Natural resources management, while Articles 112(1) and 112(2) a) b) c) and h) urge Partner States to adopt common environment control regulations, incentives and standards. It further encourages the manufacture and use of bio-degradable pesticides, herbicides and packaging materials while adopting common environmental standards.

According to the report, Burundi is in total agreement with the Bill and is very supportive to it. Since 2000, the Government has promoted policies on environmental management and sanitation through some projects on waste management in urban areas.

The report says stakeholders in Kenya invited to the public hearing of the Committee included officials from Ministries of EAC, Labor and Trade, Environment, Parliamentarians from the Committee on Environment, Human Rights – based civil society organizations and the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM). “Stakeholders support the Bill and think that it can be significantly improved by addressing the issue of waste management. But they expressed the need to balance between eradicating the polythene menace and protection of investments’, the report says in part.

In Uganda, Hon. Valerie Nyirahabineza informed the House of a law banning plastics which was enacted in April 2015.

“There are continuous awareness creation campaigns and proposals to restrict the ”kaveera” (plastic carrier bag) ban of 30 microns”, she said.

Representatives of the manufacturers (Uganda Manufacturers Association - UMA) said they had been left out during consultations on the EAC Polythene Materials Control Bill, 2016. For that purpose, the Committee interacted with them in Kigali, Rwanda on Wednesday 8th March 2017. In the presentations, UMA stressed the importance of waste management through recycling as a way reducing negative impacts of plastics on environment. In the alternative, UMA recommended that polythene industries be regulated by the 3 Rs solution (reduce, re-use and recycle). Their plea to the Committee thus was to let EAC countries continue using polythene materials, then re-use, reduce and recycle them.

The Republic of Rwanda on its part is in full support of the Bill as the plastic usage ban started in 2004 after a Policy was approved by Cabinet. Four years later, the country enacted a law which is enforce.

The United Republic of Tanzania is yet to submit their submissions according to the Chair of the Committee. “A letter was sent to the United Republic of Tanzania requesting them to send their submissions”, she told the House.

The apex body of the Private Sector in the region, East African Business Council wrote to the Speaker of EALA, Rt Hon. Daniel F. Kidega requesting for further consultations and more time for the Private Sector to submit their Memorandum on the bill.

During submission, Hon. Mumbi Ngaru lamented over the frustration and pain of implementing waste management system and said there was need to rid the region of polythene materials. She however noted the ban will interfere with the national economies in terms of loss of jobs and other incentives in the private sector.

Hon. Dora Byamukama said time had come to rid the region of polythene bags.

“Sometimes I travel from Kigali to Katuna to Kabale in Uganda. When you travel to Rwanda, you are compelled to dump the plastics and polythene bags before you cross into Rwanda. When travelling towards Uganda, you witness and see the actual dump of plastics even on the roads. The issue is really clear. How much longer should we wait and what is sufficient consultation? she posed.

“A time is coming when we shall be unable to have recourse for the polythene materials. We need to take action now…let our grandchildren coming after us, not suffer from our non-action,” she said.

Hon. Maryam Ussi said the comments from the United Republic of Tanzania were expected to be dispatched. We need to wait since all Heads of State shall be entitled to assent to it.

Hon. Nancy Abisai remarked that ideally, there was need to enact the Bill. “However, we must be alive to the processes happening around us. Let us allow for the proposals to be looked at so that we have consensus on the Bill”, she added.

Others who supported the Bill were Hon. Shyrose Bhanji, Hon. Mike Sebalu, Hon. Susan Nakawuki, Hon. Mukasa Mbidde, Hon. Oda Gasinzigwa, Hon. Joseph Kiangoi, and Hon. Taslima Twaha. Hon. Chris Opoka, Hon. Martin Ngoga and Hon. Nusura Tiperu also supported the Bill.

Deputy Minister for EAC, Maganda Julius Wandera said the Bill was key to contain environmental degradation. “The Bill is popular across the region. However, he called on the House to take cognizance of the petition by EABC – which represents the business people”, he said.

Rule 30 ( c ) of the Rules of Procedure of the Assembly states that a Motion for adjournment may be moved without notice.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Environment in Kenya released a gazette notice banning the plastic bags effective on September 1st 2016 in the country. The notice signed by Hon. Judi Wakhungu, Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Natural Resources says in part,

“it is notified to the public that the Cabinet Secretary for Environment and natural resources has with effect from 6 months from the date of the notice and banned the use, manufacture and importation of all plastic bags used for commercial and household packaging defined as follows:”
a) Carrier bag – bag constructed with handles and with or without gussets;
b) Flat bag – bag constructed without handles and with or without gussets.

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For more information, please contact:

Mr Bobi Odiko
Senior Public Relations Officer
East African Legislative Assembly
Arusha, Tanzania
Tel: +255-27-2508240
Fax: +255-27-2503103
Cell: +255-787-870945, +254-733-718036
Email: BOdiko [at] eachq.org
Web: www.eala.org

About the East African Legislative Assembly:

The East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) is the Legislative Organ of the Community and has a cardinal function to further EAC objectives, through its Legislative, Representative and Oversight mandate. It was established under Article 9 of the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community.

Secretary General launches East African Global Impact Challenge 2017

East African Community Secretariat; Arusha, Tanzania; 02 March 2017:
The East African Global Impact Challenge 2017 was launched today by the East African Community Secretary General, Amb Liberat Mfumukeko in the company of Dr. Nicholas Haan, Director of Global Grand Challenges at Singularity University in California, United States America.

The purpose of the SingularityU East Africa Global Impact Challenge is to foster moonshot innovations and startups that positively impact the lives of people living in East Africa, with an ability to scale and impact a billion people worldwide in 10 years.

The challenge is to submit an innovative idea to solve a critical social or environmental issue.  This year’s theme is Climate Change, including solutions for prevention, adaptation, and mitigation. The innovative idea must have relevance in the East Africa Region as well as address a global issue. The innovation should utilize cutting-edge technology.

With financial support from Google, Singularity University will provide the winner full scholarship to its prestigious Global Solutions Program—a 10 week program held at Singularity University’s campus within the NASA Ames Research Park in the centre of Silicon Valley, United States.

The deadline for submission of applications is 23rd March 2017. The winner of the Challenge will be selected during a pitch event that will be held on March 23rd this year in Nairobi, Kenya.

Addressing the media at the launch, the EAC Secretary General, Amb. Liberat Mfumukeko stated that the East African Global Impact Challenge 2017 comes at a very important and appropriate time for EAC because it provides an opportunity for citizenry to get involved in getting solutions to critical social or environmental issues.

“The East African Community recognizes Climate Change as a very critical issue. We have addressed it in the 4th EAC Development Strategy and will continue to address it in both the EAC Vision 2050 and the 5th EAC Development Strategy’’, asserted the Secretary General.

The Secretary General informed the media that EAC aspires to build the region’s ICT capacities to encourage innovation and increase competitiveness. “We are delighted to collaborate with Singularity University to build bridges between the Silicon Valley in the USA and East Africa’’

On his part Nicholas Haan, Director of Global Grand Challenges at Singularity University said the overall  mission of Global Impact Competition is to encourage East Africans to develop innovative solutions to regional pressing problems with the hope that some of these solutions would be actually implemented in those areas.

He  informed the media that increasingly, technology was in the hands of innovators around the world–including the people who are most facing challenges. This is a great transformation and is certain to create a plethora of solutions on local and global scales.” added Nicholas Haan.

Director Haan disclosed to the media that the climate change was selected as a theme for this year  because it has consequences for every industry, geographic region, and way of life.

“We are looking for applicants from any technology or science discipline because we know a challenge as huge as climate change can only be solved within the convergence of multiple disciplines and exponential technologies’’.

Application Criteria:

  • The challenge is open to residents and citizens in East Africa Countries
  • You must be age 21 or older on the first day of the GSP
  • Must be fluent in written and spoken English
  • Able to participate for the entire GSP17 program
  • Applicants selected as finalists will be interviewed by a panel of judges on 23rd March 2017

Assessment Criteria:

  • Degree of solution’s relevance to the theme of the challenge
  • The regional relevance in solving the challenge in East Africa
  • Feasibility, Viability and Coherence of implementing the idea
  • Entrepreneurial and innovative potential, with a focus on technological novelty
  • Applicant’s leadership experience and quality, profile, achievements, and potential

For more information on how to apply for the  East African Global Impact Challenge 2017,please visit http://giceastafrica.info/

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For more information, please contact:

Mr Owora Richard Othieno
Head, Corporate Communications and Public Affairs Department
EAC Secretariat
Arusha, Tanzania
Tel: +255 784 835021
Email: OOthieno [at] eachq.org

About the East African Community Secretariat:

The East African Community (EAC) is a regional intergovernmental organisation of five Partner States, comprising Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, with its headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania.


East African Community
EAC Close
Afrika Mashariki Road
P.O. Box 1096
United Republic of Tanzania

Tel: +255 (0)27 216 2100
Fax: +255 (0)27 216 2190
Email: eac@eachq.org