Managing disaster risk reduction in the Horn of Africa

Countries in the Horn of Africa are highly prone to natural disasters, especially drought, with extreme economic, social and environmental impacts on the local people, many of whom are pastoralists and agropastoralists. Drought is a chronic and regular feature of the lowlands of the Horn of Africa but increasingly leads to disaster because of a combination of factors that make the local people highly vulnerable and less able to cope. The technical brief “Disaster risk reduction management in the drylands in the Horn of Africa” prepared by the Technical Consortium for Building Resilience to Drought in the Horn of Africa (CGIAR Consortium / FAO Investment Centre) argues that disaster risk reduction (DRR) interventions should not only focus on addressing the hazards that causes disasters but should also encompass actions that reduce vulnerability to disaster risk and build local capacity to cope.

Climate change and variability are real challenges for people in the Horn, and there is much commonality between DRR and climate-change adaptation. Both promote increased investment in capacity building and resilience to reduce or mitigate future climate-related risks. Despite widespread appreciation of the value of DRR in theory, it is often not translated into practice because:

  • The artificial split between humanitarian and development funding mechanisms undermines support for holistic approaches that incorporate multi-sectoral, long- and short-term interventions.
  • Capacity is weak in all sectors to develop strategic local plans of quality that effectively incorporate such issues as DRR, reducing poverty and building resilience.
  • Emergency response and funding is heavily biased in favour of food aid; despite the rhetoric, disaster preparedness accounts for less than 1% of humanitarian aid.
  • Communities are often excluded from planning, implementing and monitoring efforts to reduce disaster risk or build resilience; with appropriate resources and support, communities can better identify appropriate interventions and ensure interventions are timely and sustainable.
  • Effective coordination and collaboration among the many ministries, donors and local actors that need to be involved are often lacking.

The brief identifies good practice in DRR interventions and illustrates how risk-reduction considerations can be systematically incorporated into all development and humanitarian policies and programming.

Posted on 11 August 2013 in Pastoralism & Climate Change, Pastoralism & Natural Resources