POLICY: Towards a Drought Policy: The Windhoek Declaration for Enhancing Drought Resilience to Drought in Africa

Two consecutive years of erratic rain and dryness, exacerbated by El Nino, has caused the worst drought in 35 years in Southern Africa. This resulted in the second consecutive failed harvest impacting on food availability in the region. Food availability has been reduced by 15% compared to the 5-year average. The region recorded cereal and maize deficits of 9.3 million tons and 5 million tons respectively. Food prices in the region have risen substantially; in Malawi, it has risen by 168 percent and in Mozambique it has risen by 180 percent compared to the 5-year average.

Recoginising the dire situation Southern Africa is facing, Africa hosted its first annual drought conference in August 2016. The theme of the conference was ‘Enhancing resilience to drought events on the African continent’. It was organised by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism in Namibia following up on its role as UNCCD COP11 President and to the outcomes of the high-level meeting on national drought policies (HMNDP) held in Geneva in 2013. The conference focused on identifying the specific needs of African countries in the area of effective drought mitigation, with a view to developing a strategic framework for enhancing resilience to drought events on the African continent.

The overall objective of the Conference was to come up with an overarching strategic framework for Africa that will enhance resilience of the impact of drought events. The conference set in motion the process to develop a strategic framework for enhancing resilience to drought at the African level that will contribute to poverty alleviation, economic development and enhance environmental and human well-being. 

The Windhoek Declaration for Enhancing Resilience to Drought in Africa adopted the Strategic Framework for Drought Risk Management and Enhancing Resilience in Africa, which proposed a Drought Resilient and Prepared Africa (DRAPA) at the national level guided by the following six elements:

  1. Drought Policy and Governance for Drought Risk Management;
  2. Drought Monitoring and early warning;
  3. Drought vulnerability and impact assessment;
  4. Drought mitigation, preparedness, and response;
  5. Knowledge management and drought awareness,
  6. Reducing underlying factors of drought risk

The Parties declared to commit to the following: 

  1. Implement the Strategic Framework for Drought Risk Management and Enhancing Resilience in Africa, which proposes a Drought Resilient and Prepared Africa (DRAPA);
  2. Request the African Group Chair in collaboration with Namibia and the UNCCD African bureau members to ensure that a draft decision for the next Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention (CRIC) be submitted and considered for negotiation and adopted by the next UNCCD Conference of Parties (COP);
  3. Request the AU Commission with support from the Government of Namibia to ensure that the Strategic Framework for Drought Management and Enhancing Resilience in Africa be adopted by the relevant bodies of the African Union (AU) and its subsequent endorsement at the AU Summit;
  4. Call upon the AU Heads of State and Governments to adopt a decision under the framework of the UNCCD to develop a binding protocol on Drought Risk Management for Enhancing Resilience to be submitted for consideration to COP 13 in 2017;
  5. Establish a core team in Africa, under the leadership of an appropriate organ of the AU, to support operationalization of the Strategy and the pronouncements contained in this Declaration;
  6. Establish a continent-wide African Network with national institutions for Drought Monitoring and Early Warning Systems, and strengthen existing regional, sub-regional, and national EWSs, with a view to facilitate timely drought information, vulnerability and impact assessment, and mitigation measures at the country, regional and continental levels.
  7. Explore existing and innovative financing opportunities, systematically and strategically tap into existing financing opportunities, in particular the climate change adaptation financing and other financing mechanisms including private sector;
  8. Allocate adequate resources for enhancing African drought resilience within the existing regional, sub-regional, and or national investment funds, and explore options to: a) Catalyse and strengthen existing drought, emergency and disaster funds; anAppeal for a window for enhancing African drought resilience within the LDN Fund and any others.b) Appeal for a window for enhancing African drought resilience within the LDN Fund and any others.Request all African countries and partners to ensure that the implementation of the Strategic Framework is considered as part of national SDG implementation frameworks and enhance synergies amongst the existing international agreements and other Conventions particularly amongst the Rio Conventions, i.e. the UNCBD, UNCCD and UNFCCC
  9. Promote an inclusive empowerment agenda in all aspects targeting the vulnerable groups, such as the people living with disability, indigenous and marginalized communities, youth, the elderly men and women, in drought resilience building to ensure that they are fully equipped (systemically, institutionally and individually) to deal with drought.
  10. Operationalize Article 19 of the AU Youth Charter on Sustainable Development and Protection of the Environment by engaging with the youth as future African leaders, ecosystem stewards, and change-makers to enable transformation in combating drought, and addressing the interrelationships between DLDD, water use and management through generational continuity and further to facilitate an African Youth Environmental Conference.
  11. Invite all International Financial Institutions (IFIs), the AfDB, Bilateral and Development Partners, the UN Agencies, amongst others, the WMO, UNCCD, FAO, UNDP, UNOOSA, WFP, UNEP, UNESCO, UNICEF, the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement, public and private sector, and civil society to take into account the outcomes of the ADC and support Member States to implement DRAPA at continental, regional, sub-regional, and national levels consistent with the national regulatory frameworks.
  12. Request the UNCCD Secretariat and its Global Mechanism and partners including the Global Environmental Facility, Green Climate Fund, Adaptation Fund, and other funding mechanisms to support each country to develop a National Strategic Framework for Drought Management and Enhancing Resilience in Africa as part of enabling activities;
  13. Convene biennial African Drought Conference to be held concurrently with the African Drylands Week to consider progress of the implementation of the Strategy adopted in Windhoek in August 2016, in order to promote investment opportunities.

The full text of the Windhoek Declaration is available here

 

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