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Horn of Africa Countries Address Drought Threat and Disaster Resilience

IGAD31 March 2014: The Second IGAD Drought Disaster Resilience and Sustainability Initiative (IDDRSI) was facilitated by the Executive Secretary of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an organization comprised of six East African countries in the Horn of Africa.

The Second IGAD IDDRSI met from 24-27 March 2014, in Kampala, Uganda, and included the Drought Resilience Summit, which took place on 27 March. The outcomes of the Summit are expected to contribute to the Fifth Africa Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, in May 2014. The Summit took place under the theme 'Ending Drought and Emergencies in the IGAD Region;' focused on “investing differently” to end drought emergencies; and helped prepare for a future in which climate change will amplify existing stress on water availability in Africa. The Summit resulted in a Declaration of the IGAD Summit of Heads of State and Government on Progress of the IDDRSI. The Summit was preceded by the Regional Drought Resilience Platform General Assembly and Steering Committee meeting.

During the meeting, participants presented on in-country progress, and urged fast tracking of “institutionalization” of DRR and management processes, as well as informing drought resilience investments by risk information. According to the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR), Ethiopia and Kenya have integrated their country programming on drought resilience into their long-term development plans, while, in Uganda, the main focal point for implementation of resilience programmes is the DRR Office. In addition, UNISDR has supported the establishment in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda of national disaster loss databases. Also, a Resilience Analysis Unit was established at the IGAD Secretariat to enable joint analyses at the country level.

Sharon Rusu, head of the Africa office of the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction's (UNISDR), said that although precise reporting is difficult and therefore, data, sparse, little doubt exists that drought has severely affected lives and livelihoods in the Horn of Africa. She went on to explain that the recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, IPCC Working Group II's contribution to the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of the IPCC, confirms that climate change will interact with other risks to exacerbate vulnerability of agricultural systems in Africa, with consequences for food security. The IPCC report also acknowledges that Africa is one of the most vulnerable continents due to its high exposure and low adaptive capacity.

Initiated after the crisis triggered by the 2008-2011 droughts, IDDRSI has led to progress both at regional and national levels in IGAD member States, such as the development of country programming papers and institutional structures. IGAD was created in 1996 to supersede the Intergovernmental Authority on Drought and Development (IGADD), which was founded in 1986, and is comprised of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda. [IGAD Press Release] [Summit Declaration] [Summit Website] [UNISDR Press Release]