Resilience to drought (Google / IFRC)

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Building resilience to drought in sub-Saharan Africa

Katherine Mueller, IFRC

It is dry. Extremely dry. Everyone and everything needs water, from people to livestock to vegetables in the garden. But rain is months away: it is drought season in sub-Saharan Africa.

Recently, organizations including UNISDR, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and 16 Red Cross societies from Africa came together in Arusha, Tanzania, to discuss ways to improve resilience to drought and to define a position on a new global framework for disaster risk reduction.

Outcomes from the the 5th Africa Drought Adaptation Forum and the 4th Africa Regional Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction will feed into the 2013 Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, as well as the development of the Hyogo Framework for Action. Recommendations included a commitment to DRR investment and building resilient cities, and also to reducing risk through climate change adaptation.

“Eighty per cent of our population is affected by the drought that hits Kenya every two years,” said Suada Ibrahim, Disaster Management Manager at the Kenya Red Cross Society. “Communities don’t have time to recover, so they become more vulnerable.”

Drought drives vulnerability through malnutrition, migration, conflicts over scarce resources, and skyrocketing food prices. But Ibrahim questions the traditional model of relief. “Are we really being fair to communities by rushing in with food relief?” she asked a group of journalists attending the forum. “To build true resilience, we need to focus on educating people and working with communities to ensure they have timely access to climate information, for example.”


Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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