ASALs account for about 80% of the land area of the countries in the Horn of Africa (HoA). Pastoral, agro-pastoral rain-fed agriculture and livestock production systems are the primary economic enterprise and main economic driver in the ASALs. The majority of this area is affected by moderate to severe land degradation and desertification. About 30% of the IGAD MS populations live in the ASALs. Social, technical and economic services are however not well developed, especially to the mobile pastoral populations. In addition, the long-term development needs of the ASALs are generally under resourced. Insecurity in the region exacerbates vulnerability and hinders effective response and other development interventions.

ICPALD has the mandate of promoting and facilitating sustainable and equitable Drylands and livestock development in the region which occupies an area of about 5.2 million Sq. Km and has a population of about 230 million people growing at a rate of 2.6%. Since inception in July 2012, ICPALD has been engaged in several interventions including: – Linking climate prediction products to end users in ASALs; contributing to conflict resolution through targeted development interventions; expanding sources of wealth and employment creation in the ASALs; support to regional drylands training and research institutions networks and supporting the expansion of frontiers of knowledge.

Crop production is generally considered not viable due to ecological and social-cultural reasons. Such generalizations do not take cognizance of the great geographic diversity of the region and wide flexibility of the populations. When and where the conditions allow (water availability and soil fertility) communities have engaged in rain-fed and irrigated crop agriculture which has been shown to make significant contributions to livelihoods. Pastoral production systems in the IGAD region depend on natural vegetation, water and other natural resources. They play a key role in the protection and maintenance of ecosystems and services. These ASAL ecosystems are characterized by highly variable temporal and spatial production of herbaceous biomass, which impact on livestock production and productivity.

The dependence of the IGAD region on rain-fed crop agriculture and livestock production systems and the associated industries makes it vulnerable to the adverse impacts of increased frequency and intensity of climatic extremes associated with climate change. It is widely acknowledged that the HoA is facing a daunting challenge of pursuing sustainable development in the face of Climate Change (CC).

Most of the IGAD region is highly vulnerable to the extremes of climate variability especially the recurrent droughts and floods. The floods, droughts, severe cold and warm spells, among others are causing serious human suffering and huge economic losses. Such climatic extremes often wipe out years of national development investments in water, agriculture, industries, tourism, infrastructure, health, shelter, transport, communication and also result in mass migrations. Women and the youth are most vulnerable to the effects of these climatic calamities since they are the ones who are at the fore-front of agricultural production.

The impacts of climate change are devastating in most of the IGAD region. However, the vulnerability varies from location to location depending on the severity of the local climatic hazards, the adaptive capacity, and the prevailing local systems. Natural resources (NR) such as water, wildlife, rangelands and general ecosystems often extend beyond the boundaries of tribal areas and countries. Some serious conflicts over these natural resources have been witnessed in many parts of the IGAD region. These conflicts are especially worse during years of climatic extremes. With the increasing growth of populations and corresponding demands for natural resources from the continuously degraded environment, CC, forced migration and conflicts will be key challenges of this century in this region.

ICPALD is mandated to address development challenges in ASALs of MS by providing evidence based sustainable development options. The Centre is also mandated to facilitate appropriate and applicable knowledge, research and technology development; including their domestication, adoption and transfer so that member states and their partners share and use best practices at regional, national and local platforms. Knowledge Management (KM) will also facilitate innovation within the organization, partners and beneficiaries.

Shared knowledge will contribute to congruence in ideas, judgments, perspectives and concepts within MS. This will enhance future planning, minimize risks and enable MS to take advantage of available opportunities. It will also enable the region develop its knowledge base, competitiveness and improve efficiency in allocation of human and technological resources. To build adaptive capacities, people of IGAD region need flexibility and equitable access to transformative knowledge for production, trade, markets, health, and investment among others.

For more information contact;

Dr Adan Bika