Disaster risk reduction in the drylands of the Horn of Africa - Edition 3

Introduction

The third REGLAP journal on good practice examples of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) begins with initiatives focused on disaster preparedness and mitigation. ACTED’s article on its widely used and much valued Drought Early Warning System in Karamoja (Uganda), explains how the system is now more efficient through the rethinking of indicators and the fine-tuning of warning thresholds. An article from Oxfam looks at how the agency is rethinking its approach to emergency water provision in Ethiopia and Kenya as part of tightening up its humanitarian response to drought.

Many organisations are recognising the importance of working across borders in preparing for drought, and Cordaid’s article on Participatory Drought Risk Assessment at the Kenya-Ethiopia border demonstrates the benefits of taking a multi-agency cross-border approach. Partners are also continuing to learn more about disaster preparedness and mitigation techniques from the communities they work with, and the People First Impact Method (P-FIM) is introduced here as one way of understanding community viewpoints better. Transparency International provides a valuable set of recommendations on how to provide food assistance to communities during drought with greater integrity and accountability.

The second section of the journal covers some of the initiatives that are building resilient livelihoods. In Karamoja it is recognised that livestock health is crucial for household resilience and drought response, and Dan Church Aid explains how the consortium it leads is improving coordination, communication and budgeting amongst all stakeholders in order to address cross-border livestock diseases. The Oxfam Somaliland article demonstrates how community development interventions that build resilience in the aftermath of civil war and ecosystem destruction can make a significant difference with very little financial investment.

One of the important factors for pastoralists coping with repeated disasters is being able to trade their livestock assets easily, and viable livestock markets are therefore essential. Food for the Hungry-Kenya recognises the importance of improved marketing in resilience, and is assisting in the creation of community-based market management committees. An article by Oxfam Somaliland and Oxfam Ethiopia on the cross-border livestock trade advocates strongly for greater legal recognition of trading as a means of economic survival and food security in this marginalised region. Susie Wren’s article moves away from livestock, and looks at how other products from the biodiversity rich drylands could be better marketed and could potentially benefit communities as an alternative income source.
The need for private sector involvement and investment in helping build resilience in dryland areas has long been discussed, and Farid Mohamed’s article outlines the Northern Kenya Investment Fund as a new model for attracting investors into the region. The fund is based on ‘impact investments’, an approach now gaining traction among socially conscious financiers.

Prepared communities, fine-tuned development practice and effective finance can only go so far in building resilience: The Arid and Semi Arid Lands (ASALs) in the Horn of Africa also need strong and effective leadership from national and regional governments. The third section of the journal looks at progress being made in coordination, capacity building and advocacy. To address the inherent vulnerabilities in the ASALs stricter adherence to environmental and social safeguards is required, but at the same time encouragement is also necessary if the ASALs are to attract the investment they require. The championing and coordination of development in the ASALs of Kenya is now the task of its newly created ASAL Secretariat, and Helen de Jode’s article introduces the objectives and structure behind this long-term institution.

The other articles in the third section focus on the advocacy for policy reform that is a core part of DRR. The first discusses the slow progress in implementing the AU Pastoral Policy Framework. Ethiopia Oxfam’s article then explains how the dryland actors in Ethiopia have set out to learn from policy successes in West Africa with a valuable experience sharing visit and a national drylands workshop. And the section concludes with details of IGAD’s initiative to build a common programming framework to improve coordination and effectiveness in ending drought emergencies.

The third REGLAP journal on good practice in Disaster Risk Reduction ends with Vanessa Tilstone’s article on the recent debate about resilience, what it means for practice, and what’s still needed to ensure that key constraints in development and resilience building in the drylands can be overcome.