NAIROBI, March 31 (Xinhua) — Countries in the Greater Horn of Africa region on Friday renewed their commitment to scaling up investments in drought resilience programs in order to cushion vulnerable population from an escalating food and water insecurity.
Senior policymakers and experts from Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) attending a forum in Nairobi said targeted investments in early warning, public awareness and climate resilient agricultural systems is key to containing endemic hunger, malnutrition and water stress blighting the region.
Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Planning and Devolution Mwangi Kiunjuri said improved weather forecast technology, ecosystems regeneration and public awareness are key to minimize the impact of recurrent droughts in Greater Horn of Africa region.
“Our region is going through a major drought that poses serious threat to livelihoods and economic development. It is critical for countries to invest in farming systems and infrastructure that are resilient to droughts that are expected to occur frequently due to climate change,”
The UN contends that an estimated 20 million people are affected by drought in the East and Horn of Africa region owing to suppressed rains in the previous seasons.
Kiunjuri noted that compared to 2011, the current drought in the region is unprecedented in terms of intensity and geographical reach while timely interventions have averted deaths.
“The impacts of the current drought have not been so severe when compared to the one in 2011 thanks to better preparedness and response from individual countries and humanitarian agencies,” said Kiunjuri.
He urged governments in the region and their bilateral partners to invest in long-term drought resilience measures like improved crop and animal husbandry as well as sound ecosystems management.
“We need to plan and budget for worst case scenarios, expand social safety net programs and establish drought recovery fund to cater for the most vulnerable,”
He revealed that Kenya’s emergency drought response fund set up by the national government recently has strengthened lifesaving interventions earmarked for an estimated 3 million people affected by the phenomenon in 23 counties.
Countries in the Greater Horn of African region are exploring innovative financing mechanisms to enhance their response to frequent drought cycles linked to climate change.
The Executive Secretary of IGAD Mahboub Maalim said political goodwill and improved cross-border information sharing will strengthen drought resilience in the region.
“We are not yet out of the woods and should brace for severe droughts in every two-year cycle. The priority should be rapid investment in resilience programs,”
Executive Secretary of IGAD Mahboub Maalim