The Great Horn of Africa region covers 5,2 million square kilometres with a population of 221 million people in 2011. The area includes some of the most arid places in the world. The harsh environment and climate change vulnerability are major threat to the region’s life-supporting ecosystems and their services. The resource scarcity is exacerbated by frequent disasters, as the HoA is one of the most conflict and disaster prone regions of the world. Conflict in the region occurs at several levels, including inter and intra state wars, and armed conflicts and inter-communal conflicts. The intimate link of these conflicts with resources scarcity is evident by reviewing the causal analysis of the conflicts
Natural disasters have been regular in the region and the population has historically demonstrated its capacity to mitigate the negative impacts of such extreme events. The effect climate change, however, is increasing the frequency of disasters in the past 20 years. The increased frequency of droughts has eroded the adaptation and recovery capacity in the HoA and for many families this implies that there is not enough time to recover before the next drought strikes. One of the effects of this situation is that, for the past 5 years, IGAD’s Member States have been constantly managing emergencies and no opportunity was left to strengthen their capacities to respond to crisis on the long term. The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) is the Africa Union Regional Economic Community in the Great Horn of Africa and has for mission to assist its Member States to achieve, through increased cooperation: (i) Food security and environmental protection, (ii) promotion and maintenance of peace and security and humanitarian affairs, and; (iii) economic cooperation and integration. Disaster Risk Management (DRM) and Conflict Prevention are key pillars of IGAD’s mission.
To break the impact of disasters, countries must increase their effort to understand better the risks and their potential impacts, to develop strategies and action plan to reduce and respond to the risks, to get prepared for upcoming disasters, to respond and to recover from a disaster, etc.
To do so, countries must have access to a large range of experts, as Disaster risk management is a multi-sector approach and it requires expertise in various disciplines.
In this context, the IGAD has developed a mechanism where experts from one IGAD Member State can provide assistance to another country on DRM themes. The aim of this mechanism is (i) to support IGAD Member States in achieving specific results in DRM; (ii) to build the capacities of national institutions and; (iii) to harmonize DRM national strategies and programmes and improve regional integration.