Strategies for coping with climate variability in Eastern Africa
All Eastern African governments except Somalia have signed and ratified the
UNCCD. Djibouti, Ethiopia and Uganda have produced National Action Plans, and
the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) (see Chapter 1) has produced
a sub-regional action plan for the countries in the Horn of Africa (UNCCD 2001).
All Eastern African countries (except Rwanda and Burundi) belong to IGAD. Monitoring
and early warning systems have been put in place, through IGAD, to improve the
ability to cope with climate variability. ENSO-related events can also now be
detected, as a result of research conducted under the World Meteorological Organization's
(WMO) Tropical Ocean and Global Atmosphere programme. The WMO issues monthly
statements (El Niņo Update) to provide effective, accurate, and timely information
to all concerned, to allow them to take mitigatory action. However, most of
the national institutions in the subregion are under-resourced making adequate
early warning dependent on donor support. In April 2000, an Inter-Agency Task
Force on the UN Response to Long Term Food Security, Agricultural Development
and Related Aspects in the Horn of Africa was launched. The Task Force has produced
a strategy for the Elimination of Hunger in the Horn of Africa aimed at broadening
opportunities for sustainable livelihoods, and formulating and implementing
country food security programmes. In Kenya, research into traditional methods
of coping with climate variability is also underway, with the aim of applying
traditional knowledge to commercial enterprises (see Box 2a.2).
|Box 2a.2 Traditional strategies for coping with drought
Drought is extremely difficult to predict and the variable duration
and extent of the phenomenon make its effects difficult to manage.
For pastoralists, following the rains and pasture is a natural part
of their system, and setting aside of areas for grazing reserves
and splitting of herds to minimize risk are part of their coping
mechanisms. However, exclusion from some traditional grazing areas
has compromised their ability to cope during dry periods and drought.
A project conducted by the African Centre for Technology Studies
(Kenya) aims to identify traditional means of reducing vulnerability
to environmental change in dryland Africa, and incorporate them
into commercial food production systems. Field studies were conducted
to gather information on ways in which rural households use indigenous
plants in responding to drought, and how national environmental
policies affect their practises.
|Source: ACTS 2001