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World Bank Outlines Steps to Increase Drought Resilience in Africa

World Bank19 December 2011: The World Bank has released a policy paper titled "The Drought and Food Crisis in the Horn of Africa: Impacts and Proposed Policy Responses for Kenya," which highlights four broad policy changes that can be taken by Kenya to reduce its vulnerability to future droughts as climate change continues to reduce rainfall in the region.

According to the World Bank, over 3.7 million Kenyans, particularly those based in the Northern and Eastern regions of Kenya, were affected by the recent drought. The Bank also highlights that the Horn of Africa is currently the centre of one of the worst droughts to have affected the region in the last two decades, and that the pastoral lifestyle in the region makes people living there particularly vulnerable to drought and the impact of climate change.

The paper's authors, Gabriel Demonbynes and Jane Kiringai, note that although the Kenyan Government is seeking advice from the World Bank to address policy changes to reduce Kenya's vulnerability to drought and increase its resilience, the policy paper seeks to engage the broader Kenyan public on this topic.

The authors suggest four areas for change, namely: investing in people in arid and semi-arid lands through increased policies and services, such as healthcare and education; reforming maize policies to reduce historically high prices; reviewing the East African Community (EAC) grain trade policy; and strengthening social safety nets to those in need.

The report notes the presence of distortions in trade and agriculture policies, which have exacerbated the impact of the drought, such as high import duties that led to a deficit in the food supply, and a universal ban on the export of cereals put in place by the EAC, which together with other Kenyan policies has contributed to high prices for food in the country. [World Bank Press Release] [Publication: The Drought and Food Crisis in the Horn of Africa: Impacts and Proposed Policy Responses for Kenya]