Innovation Urgently Sought by Stakeholders to Combat Unrelenting Disasters in the Horn of Africa
In a perplexing turn of events, stakeholders from the Horn of Africa have flocked to Kenya’s Naivasha town, situated northwest of Nairobi, for a four-day conference on humanitarian development peace (HDP) coherence in food crisis contexts. The participants have been drawn from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) partners in Kenya, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, South Sudan, and Somalia. The timing of the event is interesting as the Horn of Africa is in the midst of the worst drought in four decades, which has adversely impacted not just humans but also livestock and wildlife.
The conference was officially opened by Kenya’s National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) Chief Executive, Hared Hassan, who shared that the East African nation is currently reeling from the aftermath of a prolonged drought caused by back-to-back failed rainfall episodes. “Our communities, especially in our arid and semi-arid areas, have suffered huge livelihood losses,” he explained, stating that over 2.6 million livestock worth $1.8 billion have been lost during the period. Over 1,200 wildlife animals have also perished, with elephants being the most affected.
The Horn of Africa has seen the number of people facing acute food insecurity rise to 4.9 million since the onset of long rains at the end of March this year, up from 2.5 million in December 2021 alone. The situation gets even worse, with almost a million children under five years and over 142,000 pregnant and lactating mothers exposed to acute malnutrition. In such uncertain times, stakeholders are being urged to support each other and work together to build HDP and make progress beyond development programs.
In an attempt to explain how this can be achieved, USAID Deputy Assistant Administrator, Bureau for Resilience and Food Security, Mia Beers, called on partners to work together towards building resilience among vulnerable communities and enhancing progress beyond development programs, putting local voices at the forefront. An excellent example of HDP coherence in action is the ongoing work in Northern Ethiopia, where the Livelihoods for Resilience (L4R) Activity built resilience to shocks through livelihood interventions, women’s empowerment, financial inclusion, nutrition, climate change adaptation, and market systems development, with the ultimate goal of graduating households from the productive safety net program.
Given the ongoing shocks in the Horn of Africa, the most important thing is to build resilience and coherence for humanitarian portfolios, argued Ms. Beers. Sheila Roquitte, Deputy Mission Director, USAID Kenya & East Africa Mission, emphasized that as the Horn of Africa continues to face new and complex shocks, it is critical to think about resilience-building. Factors such as climate change, migration, and population growth further drive demand while resources remain scarce. Private sector-led approaches, working across sectors, and utilizing government officials and regional organizations to address bottlenecks, and data-driven approaches are all options stakeholders are urged to consider in addressing the challenges ahead. The four-day high-level workshop ends on Friday and brings together more than 200 delegates, including high-ranking officials from USAID, USA.