Development organisations and other stakeholders will have to re-strategise their ways of working towards finding sustainable solutions to the continuous, known and unknown shocks that continue to face the Horn of Africa region.
At a time when shocks continue to increase and become unpredictable and resources remain less amid rising demand.
Further, issues such as population growth, climate change and migration continue to increase the needs without necessarily paving the way for the availability of matching resources to meet demand.
These are some of the emerging issues at an ongoing four-day high-level workshop convened by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The four-day event has brought together stakeholders from Intergovernmental Agency for Development (IGAD), national and county governments, and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) They include delegates from Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Somalia and South Sudan. Additional delegates are from USA and Djiboute, (IGAD).
The stakeholders have convened for a peer-to-peer Regional Knowledge Sharing Meeting (RKSM) to discuss how to work towards Humanitarian Development Peace (HDP) coherence to address the food crisis.
The humanitarian, development and peace practitioners are seeking to identify collective ways to mitigate the food security challenges affecting the Greater Horn of Africa and identify varying roles played by different types of actors in responding to the crisis.
“The needs continue to outpace resources, due to the compounding shocks coupled with population growth, climate change and migration, therefore, we can’t keep doing things the way we’ve been doing them; we need to find ways to have more impact in a resource-constrained environment,” said Sheila Roquitte, the Deputy Mission Director, USAID Kenya and East Africa Mission.
She called for consideration of a private sector-led approach in harnessing resources and creating resilience.
Further, Sheila noted there was need to use government officials and regional organisations to help in creating an enabling environment that is required for stability and address any bottlenecks.
She called for collaboration across sectors noting that while job creation and improvement of livelihood should be key drivers to sustainable change, there is a need for them to be coupled with service delivery, health care, proper education, food and water security among other aspects.
Sheila called for evidence-based approach which is backed with data to show what works and what does not work. Said she, “We need to make decisions that are based on data and evidence, not just emotions of wanting to help people who are in difficult situations,” adding, “Focusing on monitoring and evaluation is therefore critical,”.
National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) CEO, Lt Col (RTD) Hared Hassan who officially opened the workshop termed it as timely, coming at a time when the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) region is grappling with the worst drought in the last 40 years.
Communities, especially in the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs) where livestock keeping is the main economic mainstay, have suffered huge livelihood losses.
According to NDMA, over 2.6 million livestock valued at about 1.8b Usd have been lost due to drought while about 1,200 wildlife died, with the elephants being most affected.
“The drought has tested our policies, strategies and resilience frameworks to the core, the cost of drought and other climate-related hazards to our economy is enormous. Moreover, frequent droughts give communities less time to recover, which further increases their vulnerability,” said Lt Col (RTD) Hassan.
The prolonged drought, the CEO noted, has demonstrated that the impacts of climate change are outpacing resilience efforts for the region. This, he added, calls for review of our strategies to make them more responsive to the emerging scenario.
In Kenya, the process of reviewing the resilience frameworks to come up with a common programme framework that will accelerate achievement of the goal of Ending Drought Emergencies (EDE) has commenced.
“As we develop the EDE framework for the 2023-2032 period, one of the issues that we seek to address is coordination and coherence among drought risk management stakeholders,” said Lt Col (RTD) Hassan.
This, he added, will enable the country to navigate the nexus between early warning and early action as well as long term resilience building.
Said he, “The framework we envisage resonates with the objective of this knowledge-sharing forum. I am positive that with the expertise in this room, we will identify collective ways to work across the humanitarian, development and peace programming to address our food security challenges in the region,”.
In her address during the opening ceremony USAID Deputy Assistant Administrator, Bureau for Resilience and Food Security, Mia Beers said it is essential to move beyond life-saving aid–and ensure that investments build people’s resilience to the next crisis, noting that the next crisis is inevitable.
“People deserve better for their lives than disconnected assistance that fails to provide more than band-aid approaches, and we are all part of the solution to give that to them,” she said.
At USAID, she added, Administrator Power just launched a new policy framework where the north star is to promote Progress Beyond Programs.
This is in recognition that the Horn of Africa is currently at a critical juncture where compounding risks are threatening stability, stalling or reversing development progress, and spiraling humanitarian needs all over the world. The crisis in the Horn of Africa, she noted, is a powerful example.