Drought Resilience and Sustainability: First General Assembly of the IGAD Regional Platform

Saturday, February 23, 2013
Remarks by USAID Assistant Administrator Nancy Lindborg, Bureau for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance

Good afternoon

Thank you to the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and to His Excellency Mahboub Maalim for hosting us today in Addis Ababa and to the IGAD team for organizing this today. It is a sincere pleasure to be back with you again this week under more hopeful circumstances to take stock of just how far we’ve come.

Last April, in response to the human suffering that we witnessed in the Horn of Africa in 2011, African leadership and the international community came together to chart a new way forward. Together, we established the Global Alliance for Action for Drought Resilience & Growth and committed to support country-led plans to build resilience and stop the cycles of crisis and food insecurity that continue to plague this part of the world.

We appreciate your commitment, partnership and collaboration on the efforts to build resilience to drought in the Horn of Africa over the last year.

We all know that the commitments made last year are not easy and fundamentally, they require a game-changing shift in how we manage risk and address chronic vulnerability in the region.

Yet, although our tasks are daunting at times, through IGAD’s leadership and the work of the Global Alliance, we have made tremendous strides toward a regional approach for building resilience. The U.S. Government is proud to see real results for the people of the region, including the development of country papers that put plans and structures in place to combat vulnerability and build resilience.

I would like to recognize my colleagues at USAID who have been intimately involved in both USAID and the Global Alliance’s work to build resilience: Greg Gottlieb, Tom Beck, Ethiopia Mission Director Dennis Weller, and Kenya Deputy Mission Director Jim Hope.

Doing Business Differently

USAID is firmly committed to supporting regional and country leadership and collaboration among international development partners in support of the resilience agenda. And, we’re doing our part at home to do business differently – to maximize the effectiveness of this support for the people of the Horn of Africa.

USAID’s First Ever Resilience Policy

Last December, USAID launched its first-ever policy and program guidance on resilience, formalizing key operational changes to better enable our teams to support country-led plans and partner with local leaders to reach these vital goals. This new guidance, “Building Resilience to Recurrent Crisis,” commits USAID to putting more of its development focus on the most vulnerable, to building the adaptive capacity of these populations, and to improving the ability of communities, countries and systems to manage risk.

And, last April in Nairobi, USAID committed to doing business differently to build resilience in three key ways:

First: Early Action in Support of Early Warning

  • Rome – 1 year later Sahel Response
  • Prevention instead of reaction

Second: Connecting our humanitarian assistance and development programs more effectively through Joint Planning Cells (JPC)/Shared Evidence Base

  • We are bringing our relief and development teams together through joint planning cells (JPC) to identify and support shared solutions and maximize the impact of current programs. Together at the same table, we are building resilience even as we save lives, and they are layering, integrating and sequencing these investments. By clearly linking these efforts to the shared goals of our partners, we can help even the most vulnerable establish a firm footing on the pathway toward inclusive growth.
  • The Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Transformations for Enhanced Resilience (WATER) project in Ethiopia is just one example of how JPCs are sequencing investments from emergency to development programming. The WATER project develops reliable water supply in areas where USAID had previously programmed emergency assistance.

  • This activity contributes directly to alleviating annual humanitarian expenses on water trucking by assisting the Government of Ethiopia to map and explore underground resources in the eastern lowlands and associated highlands of the Ogaden basin area in the Somali Region of Ethiopia and build local capacity to ensure groundwater resources are developed and managed sustainably.
  • Shared evidence base – The World Bank recently found that prolonged drought cost the Government of Kenya $12 billion, primarily due to loss of livestock. It also found that in the last 30 years, one out of every three dollars spend on development is lost as a result of disasters and crisis. These are losses that we cannot afford to sustain, and that the people of this region surely should not have to endure again and again.

Third: Firmly committed to closer coordination with international development partners in support of regional and country-led plans.

USAID Commitments

  • USAID committed $285 million of support to Kenya, Ethiopia and IGAD for FY11 and FY12 to build resilience. We are moving forward with this funding commitment in full alignment with Ethiopian and Kenyan Country Papers. We commit to helping one million fewer people needing humanitarian assistance by 2017.
  • We are also pleased to have supported the Technical Consortium, which has played such a critical role in the development of the CPPs and the RPP.

Alignment with Country Papers

  • Kenya National Drought Management Authority (NDMA)

Alignment with Partners

  • We are fully committed to strong collaboration and partnership and particularly appreciate our strong coordination with many development partners including DFID, the European Commission, World Food Programme, FAO and JICA.
  • We are pleased to see the establishment of the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs) Donor Working Group following the visit of the Global Alliance to the region in November.
  • Underscore importance of working together.

Looking Forward

With the finalization of the country and regional program papers, we are now faced with the task of taking the concrete steps toward true alignment. We cannot wait.

The U.S. Government responded to the 2011 drought with $1 billion in humanitarian assistance. We need to build resilience so these communities can withstand shocks.

The first task is to do all that we can toward aligning our existing investments in support of these papers. As we plan our new investments, we must commit ourselves to joint analysis and joint planning and explore joint programming.

Also key to true alignment will be effective country coordination mechanisms which bring together both humanitarian and development actors.

Closing Remarks

In closing, let us today commit to hold ourselves accountable for taking the difficult steps toward real alignment.

All too often, commitment wavers after the CNN cameras leave; after the urgency of the crisis passes. We must sustain the momentum and the international response.

We must leave today with a mutual commitment to spend our next General Assembly meeting in March 2014 discussing RESULTS: how has life changed for the millions of families who keep falling into crisis.

We must work quickly to ensure that the next inevitable drought does not force families to leave their homes or children to face. As President Obama said in his State of the Union address, “We know that with the reality of climate change, these shocks are coming more intensely and more frequently.”

Finally, I want to assure you that the U.S. commitment to strongly supporting IGAD, helping to strengthen local capacity, and partnering with the Members of the Global Alliance for Action, and supporting local country plans is unwavering

Thank you for your continued leadership, partnership and commitment to charting a better way forward for the people of the Horn of Africa.

See also

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Issuing Country 

Last updated: August 08, 2014

Share This Page