African Drought Conference ends

20 Aug 2016 13:00pm
WINDHOEK, 20 AUG (NAMPA) – African countries have adopted the Windhoek Declaration for Enhancing Resilience to Drought and the Strategic Framework for Drought Risk Management and Enhancing Resilience in Africa.
The framework proposes a drought-resilient and prepared Africa, Minister of Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta said during a media conference after the closing of the high level segment of the first-ever African Drought Conference that ended here on Friday.
“It is expected that this framework will guide African countries, including Namibia, to develop and implement national and sub-regional drought policies, which will make them more prepared and resilient to drought events. The key focus of these policies will be to encourage a more proactive approach to drought management and preparedness at national and sub-regional level,” he noted.
With regards to Namibia, the minister is optimistic that this strategic framework will guide and assist government greatly in the current reviewing of the National Drought Policy and Strategy of 1997.
This regional framework is the first of its kind on any continent in the world, Shifeta said.
The strategic framework contains six main pillars: drought policy and governance for drought risk management (national, regional and global); drought monitoring, response and early warning; drought vulnerability and impact assessment; drought mitigation, preparedness and mitigation; knowledge management and drought awareness; reducing underlying factors for drought and cross-cutting issues, such as capacity; and development, youth empowerment, reducing gender and income inequality.
The second key outcome of the conference is the adoption of a declaration which commits African countries to operationalising the strategic framework through a number of practical activities. This will ensure that this strategic framework will be implemented and will make a difference to the lives of rural communities and farmers, the minister said.
Important actions to be undertaken amongst others include the developing of a binding protocol on drought risk management under the framework of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and the mobilising of further commitment and support to drought resilience and land degradation neutrality through the ambit of the convention.
It also includes the establishment of a continent-wide network of national institutions for drought monitoring and early warning systems; as well as capitalising on existing funding mechanisms for enhanced drought resilience and preparedness and explore opportunities and modalities to establish a possible drought resilient trust fund for Africa.
“One of the objectives of this convention is to mitigate drought and I am pleased to see the commitment of the UNCCD in supporting countries to achieve this objective. Drought management is now back on the international radar and we look forward to enhanced future collaboration and partnership in this area,” Shifeta said.
The conference, which started Monday, was held under the theme ‘Enhancing resilience to drought events on the African continent’.
It brought together over 600 local and international delegates and was the first gathering to discuss issues of drought on the continent.