Conference adopts Windhoek Declaration to tackle drought in Africa


African Drought Conference hosted by the government of Namibia recently ended with adaption of “The Windhoek Declaration for Enhancing Resilience to Drought in Africa”.  The declaration states the commitments to implement the Strategic Framework for Drought Risk Management and Enhancing Resilience in Africa; to establish a continent-wide African Network with national institutions for Drought Monitoring and Early Warning Systems; and to 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 among others.

The conference was one of the distinct outcomes of the Namib Declaration adopted at the UNCCD COP 11/Decision 36 which emphasized a stronger UNCCD for land degradation neutrality with increasing focus on mitigating the impacts of droughts and the development of national drought policies.

The Conference attended by Ministers, Heads of Delegation and Experts, recognised the alarming impacts of the recent 2015/2016 El Nino events as one of the most severe in recent decades across Africa.

It also adopted  the  Strategic  Framework  for  Drought  Risk  Management  and  Enhancing  Resilience in  Africa,  which proposes  for  a  Drought  Resilient and  Prepared  Africa  (DRAPA)  to be  implemented at  national  level and guided  by  the following six principles: Drought policy and governance for drought risk management;  Drought monitoring and early warning; and Drought vulnerability and impact assessment.

Others are drought mitigation, preparedness, and response; Knowledge management and drought awareness; and reducing underlying factors of drought risk.

The Conference reaffirmed  the call  made for “a  stronger  UNCCD  for  a  Land  Degradation  Neutral  (LDN)  world”, under the Namiba Declaration adopted during  the UNCCD  COP  11 in Windhoek,  September  2013, in  which  the  Parties further decreed assurance to enhance sustainable land management and improve livelihoods at global, regional, national and especially at the local level.

Participants declared commitment to:

  • Implement the  Strategic  Framework  for  Drought  Risk  Management  and Enhancing  Resilience  in  Africa,  which proposes a Drought Resilient and Prepared Africa (DRAPA);
  • 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);
  • 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.
  • 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; and   Appeal for a window for enhancing African drought resilience within the LDN Fund and any others.
  • 9) 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,  e.  the UNCBD, UNCCD and UNFCCC.
  • 10) 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.
  • 11) 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.
  • 12 )Invite all International  Financial  Institutions  (IFIs),  the AfDB,  Bilateral  and Development  Partners,  the UN Agencies, amongst others, the WMO, UNCCD, FAO, UNDP, UNOOS A, 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.
  • 13)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;
  • 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.