East Africa faces up to drought threat

High-level participants at the recently concluded Drought Resilience Summit held in Kampala, Uganda.
 
By Denis McClean

NAIROBI, March 31 - UNISDR today welcomed the outcome of East Africa’s Second Drought Resilience Summit as an important contribution to next month’s Africa Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction and preparing for a future in which climate change will amplify existing stress on water availability in Africa.

Sharon Rusu, head of UNISDR’s Africa office, said: “Although precise reporting is difficult there can be little doubt that drought has severely affected lives and livelihoods in the Horn of Africa. It is very encouraging to see such high-level support from Heads of State to find innovative ways of addressing drought and there will be keen interest in this at the Regional Platform in Abuja, Nigeria, 13-16 May 2014. Today’s publication of the latest assessment on Climate Change from the IPCC confirms that climate change will interact with other risks to exacerbate vulnerability of agricultural systems in Africa with consequences for food security.”

Organized by the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the Second IGAD Drought Disaster Resilience and Sustainability Initiative (IDDRSI) General Assembly and Ministerial Meeting took place last week in Kampala, Uganda, and was focused on “investing differently” to end drought emergencies.

Initiated after the humanitarian crisis triggered by the 2008-2011 droughts, IDDRSI has spurred significant progress both at regional and national levels in the following IGAD member States: Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda. Country programming papers have been developed and institutional structures are being put in place.

Last week’s meetings were attended by the Prime Minister of Ethiopia and current chair of IGAD. Hailemariam Desalegn, President of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, Prime Minister of Somalia, Abdiwelli Mohamed, and Vice President of Sudan, Hassabo Mohamed Abdelrahman, and high level representation from all member states.

They urged fast tracking of “institutionalization” of disaster risk reduction and management processes and calling for all investments in drought resilience to be informed by adequate risk information. UNISDR supported governments of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda to establish national disaster loss databases.

Both Ethiopia and Kenya have integrated their country programming on drought resilience into their long-term development plans. Uganda has made the DRR Office the main focal point for implementation of resilience programmes under the Prime Minister.

A Resilience Analysis Unit has been established at IGAD Secretariat to enable joint analyses at country level. UNISDR will work with the newly launched IGAD-Info country-level database to ensure linkages with disaster loss databases in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda amidst recognition that “all investments in dry lands should be streamlined and coordinated, informed by adequate risk information.”

The IPCC Working Group Two report issued this week “Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability” states: “Africa as a whole is one of the most vulnerable continents due to its high exposure and low adaptive capacity.”
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