UN-backed forum to discuss early action ahead of next drought in Horn of Africa

The drought has taken a serious toll on livestock in the Horn of Africa. Photo: FAO

24 February 2012 – Government representatives, climatologists, agricultural experts, disaster risk managers and others will gather in Rwanda next week to discuss early action in case of a possible third consecutive year of drought in the Horn of Africa.

“The meeting is overshadowed by the world’s failure to act on previous warnings of drought in the region which resulted in thousands of deaths from famine, particularly in Somalia,” stated a news release issued by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, known as UNISDR.

The office is supporting the three-day Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum, which begins in Kigali on Monday, along with the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

The meeting, hosted by the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and IGAD’s Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC), will discuss the prospects for the March-to-May rainy season and consider measures to ensure that early warning leads to early action in the event of a failure of the rains.

“Two consecutive years of drought in the Horn of Africa have resulted in catastrophe for many vulnerable communities. A failure of the rains in the coming months will leave them with little coping capacity to survive,” said Pedro Basabe, head of the UNISDR Africa office.

“This year, more than ever, it is important that climate and food security experts work closely with disaster managers to monitor any serious deterioration in the situation,” he added.

Towards the end of last year, a total of 13.3 million people needed assistance in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Djibouti as a result of what aid agencies said was the worst drought in the region in six decades.

During the forum, ICPAC and UNISDR will hold joint training sessions to help strengthen the existing cooperation between climate scientists and disaster risk managers to advance information sharing for disaster risk reduction in the region.


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