The Regional Programming Paper (RPP) for the drought resilience  and sustainability initiative in the IGAD Region was developed by the IGAD Secretariat in consultation with member states, development partners and other stakeholders, including non-state actors. It is the programmatic and implementation arm of the IGAD Drought Disaster Resilience and Sustainability Initiative (IDDRSI) to be operationalize at both country and regional levels. The purpose of the RPP is

  1. To develop a common understanding of the aspects that define the regional character of the drought resilience and sustainability initiative and uphold the logic of a regional approach in implementing the initiative;
  2. To define the modalities of cooperation and the policies, arrangements, methods of work and institutional set up needed to enhance and facilitate effective cooperation in the development and implementation of programmes and projects aimed at ending drought emergencies in the IGAD region;
  3. To propose regional actions and mechanisms through which the implementation of the drought resilience and sustainability initiative in the IGAD region can be promoted, planned, supported and executed. 

The RPP is part of the IDDRSI Strategy, which arose from the collective international consensus of IGAD Member States and development partners to work together coordinated efforts aimed at ending drought emergencies through building sustainable livelihoods. Consequently the RPP is both an agreement between the IGAD member states and a framework to guide the process of implementing the drought resilience initiative. The initial concept of the RPP was endorsed by the IGAD Ministerial and High Level Development Partners’ meeting in April 2012. As a component of the IDDRSI Strategic Plan, the RPP highlights the regional character of the drought resilience initiative and underscores the importance of a regional approach to achieve the stated plan objectives.  


Persistent and widespread drought is a characteristic recurrent feature of the climate in the arid and semiarid lands (ASALs) of the IGAD region, comprising Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda. While the ASALs cover 60 -70% of the IGAD region, only 30% of the total population of about 200 million people found in the IGAD region live in these ASAL areas. Further, with more than 90% of the agriculture in the ASALs being rain-fed, there is a direct link between drought and food insecurity. 

In many parts of this region, drought and the harsh ecological circumstances, exacerbated by climate change phenomena, war and conflicts, has created conditions of chronic vulnerability with extreme poverty, persistent food insecurity, widespread economic hardships and untold human suffering.  With a fixed natural resource base that is being eroded by recurrent severe drought events, compounded by climate variability and the effects of an increasing human and livestock population and the associated unplanned urban development and settlements, the ASALs are in the throes of massive socio-economic and environmental changes that have profound negative implications for traditional livelihoods. Under the prevailing socio-political and economic conditions the populations in these areas are largely pastoral and agro-pastoral communities, who are highly vulnerable to external shocks, including droughts, climate change and violent conflicts and frequently require humanitarian assistance to survive. 

In 2010/2011, the region was hit by a severe drought that affected an estimated 13 million people and exacerbated food insecurity to famine levels in some parts of the IGAD region. The severity of this crisis brought to the fore the catastrophic impact of recurrent droughts and their dire humanitarian, environmental and productivity consequences, while they simultaneously underpinned the ineffectiveness of past drought response approaches and inspired the need to find more enduring solutions. The current food security crisis in the region is a stark reminder that insufficient attention has been paid to addressing livelihood vulnerability in the region, particularly in the ASALs. Decades of humanitarian assistance could not solve the root causes of recurring drought and other emergencies. It is apparent that it is not drought, but rather vulnerability, inadequate response and defective remedial actions that have thrown the region into repeated food shortage crises. Too often in the past, the international community has lost focus on longer-term resilience building initiatives, after recovery and reconstruction objectives have been achieved and media attention lost after the crisis has subsided. Indeed the 2010/2011 drought crisis reflected the shortcomings of past approaches used by governments and donors to respond to drought and related disasters through relief and emergency interventions and brought to the fore the urgent need to do things differently in order to prevent future drought emergencies in the region. Following the effects of the 2010/2011 drought induced disasters, there has been a strong commitment from the region and the international community to focus more seriously on interventions that will strengthen medium- and long-term resilience to disasters and ensure that the next drought does not result in another humanitarian crisis.



The RPP is a common framework for national and regional programmes developed to end drought emergencies, enhance drought resilience and build sustainability in the IGAD Region. While the individual IGAD Member States may have their own specificities (as described in the Member States Country Programme Papers), their dry land areas and drought-prone communities face common challenges and are often interconnected through, inter alia, natural resource sharing, livestock movement, regional trade and trans-boundary human and animal diseases. The RPP highlights the regional dimensions of the drought resilience and sustainability initiative and will be used to guide the development of projects and interventions.

The purpose of the RPP is fourfold:

  1. To develop a common understanding of the regional aspects, demands and expectations relating to the necessity for collective, simultaneous and coordinated action in the implementation of the IDDRSI Strategy;
  2. To propose common principles, policies, procedures, architecture and institutional set up of programmes to be developed by IGAD Member States under the general leadership and coordination of the IGAD Secretariat in order to achieve coherent, effective and monitorable action;
  3. To promote and facilitate regional interventions of a trans-boundary nature to complement the activities in the states.
  4. To define modalities of cooperation and provide a mechanism through which collective action, including resources mobilisation, necessitated by the regional character of the drought resilience initiative, can be organised and coordinated to enhance synergy and avoid duplication.  

The RPP pursues the following tenets: 

  1. To provide a shared understanding by the IGAD Secretariat, IGAD Member States and the development and implementing partners for the promotion and support of the implementation of the IDDRSI Strategy.
  2. To recognise the regional character of the drought problem, whose solution will require us to act nationally, but think regionally
  3. To mobilize resources jointly or in a harmonized and coordinated manner: Design common guidelines for  mobilisation of resources in support of the drought resilience and sustainability initiative for  Member States, development partners and the IGAD Secretariat  for national and multi-national projects, to enhance harmonised action and synergy, while avoiding duplication
  4. To enable states to agree on a common approach to drought resilience, leading to joint, collective, concerted and simultaneous actions (policies and programmes) at national and regional levels
  5. To support states in promoting and prioritising drought resilience and sustainability in their annual budgets and development plans including increasing investments in the ASALs and support to drought resilience and sustainability projects and activities
  6. To institutionalize support for and combination of both relief and development activities in emergency, medium and long term development plans
  7. To encourage each Member State to harmonise and align activities intended to enhance drought resilience and sustainability with other states in the region, through regular contacts under the general coordination of the IGAD Secretariat
  8. To put in place a formal system for coordination at country level to enhance the implementation of the initiative
  9. To enhance, enforce and implement existing policies, frameworks, agreements, protocols and other instruments to share resources and shun conflicts
  10. To introduce or adopt such policies, frameworks, strategies, supporting tools and instruments as will be necessary for the implementation of the drought and sustainability initiative 
  11. To share knowledge and experiences through regular contact and exchange information
  12. To agree on modalities of cooperation and joint action for the planning and execution of multi-national projects

The RPP will take advantage of the following opportunities:

  1. The vibrant livestock sector, which is presently acknowledged as a key contributor to the national economies of IGAD Member States; over 90% of the livestock population present in the IGAD region is found in the ASALs 
  2. The fact that pastoral and agro-pastoral production systems have a comparative advantage in offering the most effective use of the region’s abundant land and erratic climate
  3. The availability of options to develop more profitable, more integrated and drought resilient pastoralist systems 
  4. The strong and increasing demand for livestock (both within the Member States and region, the Middle East and in international markets), and the consequent need to facilitate key livestock production areas in arid and semi arid areas with supportive legal and policy frameworks and public and private sector investment
  5. The availability of options for diversification of livelihoods including the exploitation of non-wood forest products including gums, resins, spices, honey and artisanal minerals in these areas
  6. An unprecedented level of good will and commitment amongst the political leadership in the IGAD Member States and development partner, which has been consistently expressed at the highest levels since September 2011.
  7. Recent reviews that demonstrate the potential for soil carbon sequestration in dry land grazing areas and the multiple benefits of enhancing ecosystem services and processes for improving livelihoods, while contributing to adaptation to climate change impact
  8. A good wealth of existing experience and good practices, supported by various organizations, on which to build on by replication and up-scaling. 

The following major challenges will need to be addressed:

  1. The increasing frequency and severity of droughts; 
  2. The dramatic impact of these droughts on livestock populations and rain-fed crop production, which directly affect food and nutrition security; 
  3. The rapidly growing human populations in the face of declining natural resources (land, water) due to degradation, climate change and alternative use of these resources (e.g. for expansion of crop production); 
  4. Resource conflicts due to the scarcity of and competition for natural resources and 
  5. The high cost of delivering public services due to the low population densities and population movements of pastoral and itinerant communities.