Over 54 million people in the Horn of Africa are in dire need of relief assistance as the impacts of climate change continue to manifest in the Horn of Africa region. An IGAD Member States meeting of agriculture ministers now wants a coordinated approach by member states to create resilience among communities in to cushion them against the adverse effects of climate change.
The IGAD Climate Predictions and Applications Center Executive Director Dr. Gulleid Artan says changing weather patterns coupled by the threat of trans-boundary pests due to climate change is a major challenge facing the Horn of Africa. He says that pockets of desert locusts have been detected in parts of Sudan and Eritrea which could migrate based on the wind direction, hence the need for a regional approach in dealing with the menace.
Speaking at the opening ceremony for the high-level “Regional Conference on Risk Transfer and Transboundary Pest Management” Dr. Gulleid said with the impending El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) expected in the fourth quarter of the year, there is need for member states to put in place measures to cushion vulnerable communities. “We are having the ENSO which will last the coming season and into early 2024, meaning we will have very wet conditions, and we need to plan for the impacts,” said Dr. Gulleid and added, “Currently, the humanitarian situation in the IGAD region is dire and continues to deteriorate every year.”
Dr. Gulleid raised concern over the continued state of affairs, saying that the region has just come back from five consecutive seasons of depressed rains and a long drought, “a climatic event not seen at least in the last four decades,” he said. Noting that the impacts of the depressed rainfall resulted in a severe, widespread, and prolonged drought, the consecutive failed seasons have been coupled with other stress factors such as conflicts and macroeconomic challenges.
He said that the combined effects of the climatic shocks have eroded the coping mechanisms of the people, devastated livelihoods, displaced populations, and intensified resource-based conflicts in various parts of the region.
He called for a regional cooperation to address vulnerability more effectively, promote sustainable development, and build resilience among the pastoralist communities.
The Agriculture Secretary incharge of Crop Development Josephat Muhunyu warned that reliance on rain fed agriculture, use of low technology farming methods, cyclic floods and droughts are compounding the situation for vulnerable communities.
“Smallholder farmers who rely on rain-fed agriculture and use low-technology farming methods are particularly vulnerable to droughts and floods, sometimes suffering total crop losses,” he said and added, “There is urgent need to take precautionary measures to prevent losses by farmers and pastoralists.”
Muhunyu said there is need to generate relevant reliable data for decision making through harnessing digital technology and remote sensed data, to support service delivery, particularly for remote areas.
In the communiqué the Ministers urged the IGAD region to devise mechanisms that improve the role of risk transfer and risk financing approaches in enhancing communities’ resilience and livelihoods;
The called for the need to adopt innovative technologies, such as satellite monitoring systems and digital data collection tools for pests’ surveillance, monitoring and control operations and in order to increase access to microinsurance products and streamline processes and recommended that the IGAD governments and secretariat develop supportive and synchronized policies and legal frameworks that recognize and promote the role of cooperatives in pastoral and agro-pastoral sectors.