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As we commemorate the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought on June 17, 2024, it’s crucial to highlight the remarkable strides made by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in combating these severe challenges. A key contribution of IGAD has been establishing and leading a regional drought resilience platform that is pivotal in coordinating efforts across member states and development partners.

Establishment and Coordination of the IDDRSI Platform

The IGAD Drought Disaster Resilience and Sustainability Initiative (IDDRSI) was formed in response to the recurring drought crises in the region. This initiative, which was officially launched at a summit of Heads of State and Government from the IGAD region, the East African Community (EAC), and Development Partners on September 9, 2011, in Nairobi, has stood the test of time. The IDDRSI Regional Platform is a collaborative framework where priorities and intervention strategies are collectively discussed and implemented by affected countries and their partners. This platform has remained very active for more than ten years, a testament to our long-term commitment. At its 17 Platform meeting that took place from 6-7 June 2024 in Mombasa, Kenya, the platform reiterated its commitment to ending drought emergencies by adopting a 14-point recommendation for action.

The platform adeptly integrates stakeholders, encompassing IGAD member states, development partners, implementing partners, UN agencies, civil society, and research institutions. Coordination mechanisms have been firmly established at both national and regional levels, interconnecting all sectors and stakeholders involved in bolstering drought resilience. This comprehensive network, under the overarching coordination of the IGAD Secretariat, ensures the smooth implementation of the IDDRSI strategy.

IDDRSI Priority Intervention Areas

The IDDRSI strategy to combat desertification and drought is multifaceted, focusing on eight priority areas:

  1. Environment and Natural Resources Management: This area emphasizes sustainable management of natural resources, including soil and water conservation, reforestation, and the protection of water resources to mitigate the effects of drought and desertification.
  2. Market Access, Trade, and Financial Services: This priority area aims to enhance communities’ economic resilience by improving market access and trade opportunities. It also includes developing financial services tailored to the needs of vulnerable populations.
  3. Enhanced Production and Livelihood Diversification: This intervention promotes diversified agricultural practices and livelihood options to reduce dependency on climate-sensitive activities. It includes the introduction of drought-resistant crops and alternative income-generating activities.
  4. Disaster Risk Management, Preparedness, and Effective Response: This area focuses on strengthening the capacity to predict, prepare for, and respond to disasters. It includes the development of early warning systems and emergency response plans.
  5. Research, Knowledge Management, and Technology Transfer: This priority area supports generating and disseminating knowledge and technologies that can enhance drought resilience. It includes research on climate change impacts and transferring innovative technologies to local communities.
  6. Conflict Prevention, Resolution, and Peace Building: Recognizing the link between resource scarcity and conflict, this area promotes strategies to prevent and resolve conflicts, fostering peace and stability in drought-affected regions.
  7. Coordination, Institutional Strengthening, and Partnerships: This intervention aims to enhance the effectiveness of resilience-building efforts through improved coordination and more vital institutions. It involves building partnerships among various stakeholders, including governments, NGOs, and international agencies.
  8. Human Capital, Gender, and Social Development: Focusing on the social dimensions of resilience, this area promotes education, gender equality, and the development of human capital. It aims to empower communities by improving access to education, healthcare, and social services.

Achievements and Impact

IDDRSI’s strategy has been instrumental in mainstreaming drought resilience into national and regional development planning. Notably, the initiative has mobilized substantial resources and political will, leading to significant investments in arid and semi-arid lands. Here are some key achievements:

Resource Mobilization: Phase 1 (2013-2018) of IDDRSI saw an unprecedented mobilization of about USD 1 billion. Phase 2, currently ongoing, has attracted USD 220.7 million in resilience investment, with an additional USD 499.6 million secured by IGAD for regional projects. In addition, the region will strengthen the ongoing climate resilience initiative by adding USD 151 million to the Green Climate Fund, which will begin implementation in 2025.

Flagship Projects: Notable projects include the Building Resilience for Food and Nutrition Security in the Horn of Africa (BREFONS), Food Systems Resilience Project, IGAD Groundwater for Resilience Project to manage groundwater sustainably, the Horn of Africa Regional Livestock Program (RLP) and Building the IGAD Capacity on Disaster Risk Management and Climate Change Adaptation.

Early Warning Systems: IGAD’s center of excellence in climate prediction has developed effective early warning systems, enabling better preparedness and response to droughts and other hazards. These systems, supported by real-time data sharing, have saved countless lives and livelihoods.

Water Resource Management: Investment in water harvesting, storage, and irrigation infrastructure has drastically improved water availability. Kenya, for instance, implemented 85 water projects and 12 sewerage plants during Phase 2, enhancing agricultural productivity and food security.

Cross-Border Resilience Programs: IDDRSI’s cross-border programs have empowered local communities through sustainable practices, such as participatory animal vaccinations and the introduction of improved forage crops, boosting livestock production.

Regional Collaboration: The platform has fostered regional cooperation, facilitating knowledge sharing, resource allocation, and best practices. This collaboration has led to more coordinated and effective responses to drought and related disasters.

Challenges and Future Directions

Despite these achievements, significant challenges remain. Climate change, desert locust invasions, floods, and economic and social vulnerabilities threaten the region’s resilience efforts. As of April 2024, approximately 46.8 million people in seven of the eight IGAD member states were highly food insecure, highlighting the ongoing need for robust and coordinated resilience strategies.


The World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought reminds us of the critical importance of coordinated efforts in building resilience against environmental challenges. IGAD’s IDDRSI platform is a testament to what can be achieved through regional cooperation, strategic planning, and sustained investment. As we look to the future, continued support and innovation will be essential in overcoming the challenges that lie ahead and ensuring sustainable development for the region’s most vulnerable populations.

IGAD press end

Written by:

Dr Tesfaye Beshah, Regional Programming Coordinator, IGAD Drought Disaster Resilience and Sustainability Initiative PCU/IGAD Planning, Coordination, and Partnership Division

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