African Heads of State call for reform of emergency response and 'long-term solutions' to Horn of Africa crisis

United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction - Regional Office for Africa

At a time when over one billion dollars has been mobilized to provide humanitarian aid to 13 million people in the drought-stricken Horn of Africa, leaders have issued a strong call to “reform the system of emergency humanitarian response in the region, aiming to enhance resilience and promote long-term solutions.”

East African Heads of State have also said they will try to allocate a “significant portion of national revenue” to fund regional projects in drought-prone areas focussed on ecosystem rehabilitation and sustainable livelihood practices, and promoting disaster risk reduction among pastoralists and agro-pastoralists in particular.

The final text of the Joint Declaration of the Summit on the Horn of Africa Crisis which took place over September 8 and 9 in Nairobi was shared with UNISDR’s Regional Office in Nairobi today and lays out the essentials of a major strategic thrust in the region for a greater emphasis on disaster risk reduction.

The leaders agreed a “Nairobi Strategy” which includes a twin track approach to drought risk management whose “new approach and focus should be preventive rather than reactive, and should be holistic rather than emergency oriented.”

The call is backed by Summit host, Kenya’s President Mwai Kibaki, President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania, President Salva Kiir of South Sudan, President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed of Somalia and Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia.

Key points from the Declaration include:

- Timely and actionable Early Warning Information to all actors by strengthening the IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC);

- Ensure efficient utilization of water resources in the region and better use of rain water for harvesting and irrigation to improve food security;

- Promote ecosystem rehabilitation and management to build natural buffers against disasters;

- Integration of drought risk reduction and climate change adaptation into development planning and resource allocation frameworks;

UNISDR Head of Regional Office for Africa, Pedro Basabe, today welcomed the Joint Declaration and its references to the Hyogo Framework for Action and the Africa Regional Strategy and Programme of Action for Disaster Risk Reduction 2006-2015, which was endorsed by the Africa Union Summit in January 2011.

“This is a very significant rallying cry for disaster risk reduction at a time of great tragedy and crisis on the continent of Africa. UNISDR is fully supportive of this Heads of State declaration and will continue to facilitate the implementation of long-term solutions which address disaster risk reduction issues around food security in drought-prone areas and climate change adaptation.

“It must be clear to all that such an enormous threat to the lives of millions can be mitigated by effective disaster risk reduction programmes. In both Kenya and Ethiopia there are many good examples of disaster risk reduction being applied to save lives and prevent drought turning into a humanitarian disaster.

“We have been working in recent years with leaders across the continent on the development of regional agreements on disaster risk reduction and are ready now to put those experiences to work in developing a Horn of Africa Regional Disaster Resilience and Sustainability Framework as called for by the Heads of State who have just met to discuss these issues in Nairobi.”

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