Regional meeting of RCs/UNCT members on El Niño-induced drought in southern Africa: summary of conclusions and recommendations

15 September 2016, Johannesburg

Summary of conclusions and recommendations

Participants of the meeting:

RC and/or UNCT members from 12 countries in the southern Africa region, UN Regional Directors or their representatives, NGO regional Directors or their representatives, IFRC, SADC, World Bank, AfDB, regional UN agency staff.

Main conclusions and recommendations:

Session 1: Humanitarian response

  • Humanitarian impact of the El Nino induced drought in southern Africa continues to be severe. The impact of drought has been compounded by slowing economic growth, lower commodity prices, unfavourable exchange rates, political instability and high rates of HIV/AIDS.

  • Progress has been made in mobilising funding for the drought response. So far some $540 million dollars have been raised against the Regional Inter-Agency Standing Committee (RIASCO) action plan target of $1.2 billion and the resourcing gap now stands at 57%. Protection, WASH and Education sectors remain especially underfunded. Food security and agriculture sector has funding gaps especially for non-cereals and the food pipeline for the period January-April is of great concern. In addition, sources of white non-GMO maize are dwindling globally.

  • Resource mobilisation efforts for the southern Africa drought therefore need to continue as humanitarian needs rise to a peak by end of March 2017.

  • Further funding to the RIASCO action plan’s humanitarian pillar may be limited in Q4 and in 2017 given the narrow donor base and competition for resources. RCs/HCTs should therefore prioritise needs on the basis of scale and depth of need.

  • Time is running out for critical interventions including seeds and tools to be distributed now and scale up for procurement of non-cereal food supplies in light of sustained nutritional threats.

  • Use of cash-based approaches as part of the regional drought response should be further strengthened. Policies and programming of cash and social safety net activities should be reviewed at national level to ensure maximum coordination and effectiveness.

  • Situation in Zimbabwe and Mozambique is of particular concern as both countries have political and economic aggravating factors in addition to drought. Security situation in Mozambique may affect food deliveries through the critically important Beira corridor.

  • Human rights, equity and social protection need to be considered as part of the drought response. Health, gender and protection sectors require more attention. The response in all sectors needs to benefit the most vulnerable people.

  • Middle income countries in the region have greater level of national resources but require technical support from the UN, especially for data capturing, analysis, response and preparedness (e.g. Capacity for Disaster Reduction Initiative - CADRI). UN should be able to respond to such technical support needs.

  • Information management, analysis, reporting and coordination at the national level needs to be improved in order to better monitor and report on achievements and gaps in priority sectors. Donors are asking for better information on how the money that they have already given is being used. Data collection and analysis should be strengthened particularly for the health and WASH sectors where the Vulnerability Assessment Committee (VAC) does not collect sufficiently multi-sectoral needs data.

  • The RIASCO action plan should be revised by mid-November after the October VAC assessments have been completed. This will enable presentation and inclusion at the global appeals launch scheduled for the first week of December. This should be further aligned with a likely revision of the SADC appeal following the forthcoming VAC revision and Southern Africa Regional Climate Outlook Forum (SARCOF) update scheduled for midOctober.

  • Countries affected by drought should consider formal activation of clusters. This would help provide better support from cluster lead agencies, including in information management.

  • RIASCO chair will circulate an updated key advocacy messages document for the humanitarian pillar to meeting participants shortly for review and endorsement.

Session 2: Resilience

  • The Regional United Nations Development Group (R-UNDG) has prepared a strategic framework for resilient development in Africa. The purpose of the framework is to support UN teams better adapt their programme tools and staff capacity to be “fit for context” and help countries achieve the SDGs through resilient development. The framework reflects and builds on numerous existing global and regional initiatives and reference documents. The RUNDG framework is a useful resource to UNCTs in southern Africa in their efforts to incorporate resilient development into UNDAFs and HRPs.

  • Humanitarian responses should be complemented with innovative approaches to address the root causes of the current crisis, to reduce impacts and build resilience for future extreme weather events by improving water management practices.

  • Social protection and safety nets are a key element of resilient development. There is a need for harmonized approach between agencies, alignment of coordinating mechanisms with the government, unified national registration systems, strengthening government capacities and make safety nets shock sensitive.

  • As agriculture dominates the economies of the region, resilience efforts should also support farming.

  • UNDG is working on guidance to UNCTs on how to integrate resilience into UNDAFs. This guidance considers resilience as a programming principle.

  • UN should prepare a joint regional resilience project for southern Africa with focus on supporting country efforts on resilience, but also incorporating partnership with SADC. As part of this process, further consultations will be held with RCs, UNCTs and SADC.

  • A joint programme should learn the lessons from eastern Africa and cooperation with IGAD, particularly to avoid unnecessary competition and ensure synergies of efforts between agencies, building on the comparative advantage of each. The programme should also use the Coordination and Logistics Center in Gaborone as an entry point for further strengthening cooperation with SADC and should put evidence-based analysis at the heart of the enhanced cooperation.

Session 3: Risk analysis and preparedness

  • La Nina is expected to result in largely neutral conditions in southern Africa, with normal to above normal rains and potential for flooding.

  • Even if the region does not experience a strong La Nina, preparedness for floods is essential as severe flooding can be experienced even in relatively normal years, particularly in Mozambique, Madagascar, Zimbabwe and Malawi. Preparedness for both drought conditions and flooding should ensure that Minimum Preparedness Actions are undertaken and funded by both Government and donors on a “no regrets” basis. OCHA has shared preparedness checklist with RCs and will follow-up preparedness measures for each country in the region, and provide guidance and support, as needed.

  • Political risks must also be factored into regional priorities and planning, particularly in Zimbabwe (political instability) and Mozambique (insecurity and Renamo/Frelimo dynamics)

Session 4: Economic impacts and risk management solutions

  • Policy choices of countries continue to weaken their capacity to manage shocks. There has been little progress in the past 10 years in the countries’ capacity to manage shocks. There may be scope to review further why this is the case and why policies to reduce risks to natural hazards have not been adopted more widely by governments.

  • Lessons from previous shocks are still challenging to implement: lack of fiscal buffers and maize mono-cropping makes southern Africa uniquely exposed to drought. However, some progress has been made on government safety nets, and the crisis presents window of opportunity to further promote their development.

  • Cooperation with WB and other IFIs should continue in order to systematically develop joint analysis, including forecasting of economic impact of crises yet to occur, e.g. flooding, cyclones and La Nina.

  • UN should participate in WB’s on-going exercise to map risk management solutions.

  • Collaboration between WB and UN should take place at programme planning stage, in the case of the UN in the UNDAF preparation process.

  • Consideration should be given to undertake i) a pilot project with the WB to roll out joint analysis at the country level in 2017 (i.e. applying the RAP approach in three pillars in close collaboration and agreement with the RC and government) and ii) a joint visit to Washington DC to present regional progress to implement the RAP and present opportunities for further bridging humanitarian development divide in southern Africa on the side lines of the WB spring meetings in April 2017.

END

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