Ending drought emergencies: will the promises be met?

Background

The current drought in The East and Horn of Africa is estimated to have affected 13 million people, of which 4.5 million are Kenyans. Lives and livelihoods have been lost. It has also caused extensive debates on how to end drought emergencies. The discussions have hit media headlines and formed agendas of national and international conferences. A few of the issues that have cut across all these discussions are the acknowledgement that:

· While drought is an unavoidable natural phenomenon, it need not and should not lead to famine and other disasters.

· Long term under-investment in the foundations of development in drought prone areas has increased vulnerability.

· Despite early warning about looming drought, response has been reactive rather than proactive.

· There is a need for urgent investment in resilience building programmes and actions.

· While drought impacts on lives and livelihood may be localized, they affect countries’ overall socioeconomic growth.

· With climate change, drought will become more severe and frequent and climate resilient livelihood options need to be supported.

· Mobility, the key to the resilience of mobile livestock keeping should be supported through ensuring rights to communal grazing areas and migration routes, both within countries and across borders.

· There is need for social safety nets for vulnerable population though strategies like cash transfer, with clear programs to ensure that sustainable livelihood options are developed for these people.