Scenario development and humanitarian analysis workshop for the Horn of Africa region
The third Regional Scenario Development and Humanitarian Analysis workshop for the Horn of Africa region took place on 2-3 November 2004 in the Ballroom of the Norfolk Hotel in Nairobi. Participants included representatives from the country teams from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan and Somalia, regional partners and donors. Djibouti and Uganda were unable to send representation to the workshop but, in the case of Uganda, did forward notes on the humanitarian situation and scenarios which was presented to the plenary. Djibouti was not covered in the deliberations as the situation there was not thought to have altered sufficiently. Representatives of regional bodies of the UN, international NGOs, donors and the Federation of the Red Cross were present and their active participation proved invaluable for the discussions that ensued.
As had been discussed at the previous Contingency Planning Workshop for the Horn of Africa, this workshop focused mainly on the mapping and development of scenarios for the individual countries. At the request of some of the country teams, additional focus was placed on cross border issues and this served to enhance the regional dimensions of the humanitarian context in each country. Plenary discussions were invaluable in shaping and fine-tuning the country presentations and the cross border discussions rounded out the regional harmonization of the scenarios.
Although there had been notable advancements in the peace negotiations for Sudan and Somalia --- indeed, Somalia was in the process of installing a transitional government- the current context in the Horn of Africa pivots around the climatic patterns that affect food security and vulnerabilities for the people in the region. The theme of the workshop therefore centred on food aid and food security issues in the context of rain failure/drought and conflict in the Horn of Africa. A lateral theme that underpinned the discussions was the unique problems that pastoralists face with precarious livelihoods very much dependent on weather patterns and access to natural resources.
The discussions on food security commenced with a panel debate with food aid experts from around the region: Deborah Hicks from WFP Ethiopia kicked off the discussions with commentary on traditional practices that are undermined by food aid and she chose to discuss those practices such as child labour that deserve to be undermined. Alex Deprez from USAID's Food for Peace Programme then gave a briefing on alternative funding trends in food aid that would serve to reinforce coping mechanisms. John Rook, Regional Food Security Expert at the European Commission Delegation then made a presentation on the need to look beyond food aid in securing food security for vulnerable populations. Jean Marie Adrian East Africa Regional Director for CRS then briefed the plenary on alternatives to food aid as implemented by CRS: seed fairs, voucher systems and livelihood fairs. The discussions that surrounded these points were very lively and underscored the general opinion that food aid should be retained as a programme option of last resort and was not necessary in all situations of food insecurity. Food distribution programmes are already evolving in this direction and much more care is given to targeting and ensuring that aid deliveries do not undermine coping strategies employed by vulnerable populations.
The next session focused on inter-actions between drought and food insecurity and this was elaborated in a presentation by Epitace Nobera Regional Director of FEWSNET. Kenneth Westgate of UNDP's Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery made a presentation and led the discussions on linkages between drought and conflict and how these two elements mutually reinforce each other. The sessions dealing with drought were capped off with an entertaining and informative presentation on Pastoralism and Drought led by Lammert Zwaagstra, ECHO Technical Expert on Drought, Water Resources and Pastoralism. The final session of the workshop was a presentation by the Inter-Agency Working Group comprised of UN, INGO and Red Cross partners working together at regional level to harmonize planning and response. The sub-working groups (Training, Contingency Planning, Logistics, Information Management and Technology...) of the IAWG were presented and participants were given an overview of the TORs of each of these sub groups. Incorporated into these discussions were advocacy issues in the Horn of Africa that would benefit from closer regional collaboration and joint action.
Feedback evaluations from participants highlighted the interest generated through regional discussions of crucial issues such as food security and in the exploration of areas of further and more in depth collaboration that are made possible through such regional fora. The presence of regional technical expertise to feed into the discussions was a highly valued aspect of the workshop and general opinions seemed positive and encouraged future sessions.
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