East Africa bloc mulls strategies to improve drought management
28 April 2016, 09:37
Nairobi - The East Africa bloc kicked off a two-day meeting in Nairobi on Wednesday to devise strategies on improvement of drought management in the region.
Experts from the seven-member Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) said the implementation of the regional drought resilient projects have proved successful after a three year period.
IGAD Executive Secretary Ambassador Mahboub Maalim who officially opened the meeting said the drought management approach is contributing to self reliance by the regional governments and has immensely contributed to diversification of sources of livelihoods alongside pastoralism, fishing and farming systems that still dominate the dry land economies.
"Governments in the region have not asked for food aid since the approach came to force," Maalim said.
Maalim called for the strengthening of existing frameworks for resilience programs and the harmonization of informal and cross-border trade, security and cooperation between the member states for economic development and improved peace and security in the region.
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IGAD region that comprises of Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Uganda, South Sudan, Djibouti and Somalia is characterized by recurrent droughts and unpredictable rainfall patterns.
According to IGAD, more than 13 million people were affected by a combination of drought, conflict and economic crisis in 2011.
The droughts have been increasing in severity and frequency over the years and their impacts are exacerbated by advancing desertification, land degradation, global warming and climate change phenomenon.
"We are in the process of setting up a National Drought Contingency Fund to ensure early response to drought, before it evolves into emergency," Kenya's Cabinet Secretary for Devolution and Planning Mwangi Kiunjuri said.
Kiunjuri revealed that besides immense human suffering caused by drought, Kenya lost 12 billion U.S. dollars between 2008 and 2011.
He further said that Kenya is in the process of establishing a national livestock insurance scheme and a livestock evaluation system that will make it easier for pastoralists to access credit.
"We have subscribed to the African Risk Capacity that is to help us improve access to finance for drought response and thus protect the livelihoods of communities in drought problem regions," he added.
Kiunjuri challenged participants to set up special budgets to improve accuracy of early warning systems in order to foster the confidence of various stakeholders with drought information.