The Horn of Africa (HOA) region comprises 8 countries, namely Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan and Uganda, which are members of IGAD . The region has a land area of 5.2 millon km2, 60 - 70 percent of which is arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs, with less than 600mm of annual rainfall) and is characterised by recurrent droughts and unpredictable rainfall patterns.

The droughts have been increasing in severity and frequency over the years and their impacts are exacerbated by floods, advancing desertification, land degradation, global warming and climate change phenomena. These harsh and worsening ecological circumstances have created conditions of chronic vulnerability, with persistent food insecurity, widespread economic hardships and human suffering, mostly affecting the pastoralist and agro-pastoralist communities that inhabit the ASALs.
The devastating drought that hit the IGAD region in 2010-2011 affected more than 13 million people and exacerbated food insecurity to famine levels in 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. Simultaneously the 2011 drought underpinned the ineffectiveness of past drought response approaches, prompted questions on the causes of vulnerability and called for more enduring solutions. While droughts are unavoidable natural phenomena in the Horn of Africa, their impacts can be mitigated by taking appropriate action, to avoid the occurrence of famine and other emergencies.

Seeking to address the catastrophic phenomenon of recurrent droughts and related worsening environmental concerns in a sustainable manner, the Heads of State and Government of the IGAD region convened a Summit in Nairobi in September 2011 to discuss the crisis. The summit discussed the growing problem and worsening effects of droughts in the IGAD region and examined the urgent need to tackle the related problem of chronic food insecurity, diminished productivity, increasing poverty and vulnerability, in a sustainable manner.  The Nairobi Summit resolved to embark on an IGAD Drought Disaster Resilience and Sustainability Initiative (IDDRSI) to end drought emergencies. Recognizing the need to do things differently, the Nairobi Summit called for the urgent introduction of innovative sustainable development strategies, policies and programs at Member States’ and regional levels, aimed at building resilience to future climatic and economic shocks.

Thus IDDRSI is IGAD’s plan and commitment to end drought emergencies, build drought resilience and achieve growth and sustainable development in the IGAD region. In the past, the approaches used or advocated by governments, development partners and humanitarian agencies to respond to drought and related emergencies were in the form of humanitarian relief interventions, usually based on the action of individual Member States or international agencies.

Aware that achieving the objective of this initiative will entail dedicated and coordinated actions and enhanced partnerships at national, regional and international levels, the Summit tasked the IGAD Secretariat with the responsibility to lead and coordinate the implementation of the Initiative. The initiative calls for increased commitment by affected countries and interested development partners and urges enhanced regional and international partnership to support investments in sustainable development especially in the ASALs. The necessity and significance of the coordination role being played by the IGAD Secretariat in the implementation of IDDRSI is defined by the regional character of the drought resilience initiative, which demands the concerted action of all countries, sectors, partners and stakeholders in the region.

The implementation of IDDRSI is being undertaken within the framework of the collective agreement by all concerned (Member States, partners and stakeholders) to do things differently. It is based on the technical validity of the approach to end drought emergencies through building resilience and sustainability. IDDRSI advocates a coherent architecture of international commitment that involves the enhanced coordination of the strategic links between humanitarian relief interventions and development initiatives. These approaches have created a strong political momentum which promises to generate a greater sense of the need for urgent action in the affected countries and their development partners. IDDRSI promotes increased investments to facilitate the execution of appropriate intervention activities aimed building drought resilience and sustainable livelihoods for vulnerable communities.


Our Vision : A peaceful and prosperous IGAD Region free from drought disasters and emergencies.

Our Mission :  To enhance drought disaster resilience and sustainability in the IGAD region.

Overall Goal : Drought disaster resilient communities, institutions and ecosystems in arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs) of the IGAD region achieved by 2027.

Strategic Objectives
  • Promote sustainable ecosystem rehabilitation, management and equitable access to environmental resources including water, pasture, range, and land.
  • Enhance access to markets, financial services and trade as a precursor to IGAD free trade area (FTA) and common market.
  • Enhance equitable access to livelihoods support and Basic Social Services.
  • Development of institutions, mechanisms and capacities to build resilience to drought; Integration of DRR into sustainable development processes and emergency preparedness, response and recovery.
  • Enhance generation, access, use and management of research, knowledge, technology and innovations.
  • Promote attainment of Significant reduction of conflicts in ASALs.
  • Strengthen coordination, institutional mechanisms and partnerships.
The 2010 – 2011 Drought:
  • Was severe and devastating: it affected 13 million people, causing loss of lives and livelihoods
  • Exacerbated the region’s chronic food insecurity to famine levels in many areas
  • Hit news headlines, formed the topic of agendas and extensive debates in numerous discussions and conferences
  • Was a wakeup call to governments in the region and the international community for urgent and focused attention on the problem of recurrent droughts and their related emergencies in the Horn of Africa.
  • Became a rallying point that brought to the fore the catastrophic impact of recurrent droughts and their dire humanitarian, environmental and productivity consequences
  • Inspired the call for a paradigm shift in the management of drought events
The Horn of Africa Region

The predominant livelihood system in the ASALs is based on pastoral and agro-pastoral production; it is constantly challenged by the scarcity of pasture and freshwater, with increasing human and social vulnerability to environmental hazards and economic shocks, which are aggravated by droughts and resource-based conflicts.

Pertinent observations
  • While drought is an unavoidable natural phenomenon, it need not and should not lead to famine, death and other emergencies.
  • Long- term under-investment in the foundations of development in drought-prone areas has led to increased vulnerability to shocks.
  • The investment in development interventions in the ASALs will build resilience to drought impacts
  • With climate change, drought will become more severe and frequent and climate resilient livelihood options will need to be supported.
  • There is need for social safety nets for vulnerable populations and programs aimed at ensuring that sustainable livelihood options are developed for affected communities.

The Decision to do things differently

Concerned by the severity and frequency of drought disaster emergencies in the region; and seeking to urgently address this problem in a sustainable manner, the Heads of State and Government of IGAD and EAC member states and international development partners convened a Summit in Nairobi in September 2011 to discuss the drought crisis. In a decision founded in a spirit of political commitment and collective responsibility, the Nairobi Summit:

  • Called for a collective expeditious action, dedicated to the objective of ending drought emergencies
  • Decried the ineffectiveness of past drought response approaches and acknowledged the need to find more enduring solutions
  • Recognized the need to do things differently: employing preventive (rather than reactive or emergency); regional (rather than individual member state); twin-track (relief and development rather than humanitarian operations alone); holistic and multi-sectoral (rather than silos) approaches.
  • Resolved to embark on a Drought Resilience and Sustainability Initiative
  • Urged the affected countries to develop policies and strategies and facilitate investments that support programmes aimed at building resilience to future climatic and economic shocks, including building human capital and sustainable livelihoods
  • Urged countries to act nationally, but to think and work together as a region
  • Agreed to enhance partnerships and strengthen coordination
  • Mandated the IGAD Secretariat to lead and coordinate the implementation of the drought resilience Initiative.
Actions that followed the Nairobi Summit Decision

Following the Nairobi Summit Decision to embark on the initiative to end drought emergences in the Horn of Africa:

  • IGAD member states and their development partners were urged to put in place coordinated long-term policies, programmes and interventions aimed at addressing food security and building drought resilience on a sustainable basis.
  • The IGAD Secretariat convened a series of consultative meetings that culminated in a consensus on the formation of an IGAD Regional Drought Resilience and Sustainability Platform as the most effective mechanism to coordinate the implementation of the initiative. The Platform brings together the partners and stakeholders including Member States, the IGAD Secretariat, Development Partners and implementing Partners, including UN agencies, Civil Society and specialized research and training institutions. The Platform comprises a General Assembly of participating stakeholders, a Platform Steering Committee and a Platform Coordinating Unit. The Platform Coordination Unit is hosted by the IGAD Secretariat and serves the function of leading and coordinating the implementation of the drought resilience initiative
  • The coordination mechanisms, at national and regional levels, required for the implementation of the drought resilience initiative were discussed and guidelines on effective coordination mechanisms were agreed.
  • The African Development Bank, working with IGAD Member States and the IGAD Secretariat developed a programme for which US$300million was pledged to support activities the drought resilience initiative
  • Appreciating the critical role to be played by the IGAD Secretariat in leading and coordinating the implementation of the drought resilience initiative, a number of partners (notably BMZ/GIZ; USAID; JFA; UNDP; FAO and AfDB) made arrangements to support the process of building the capacity of the IGAD Secretariat to enable it fulfill the obligations of its coordination role Summit
  • The IGAD Secretariat led a consultative, participatory process involving member states, development partners and non-state actors to prepare the IGAD Drought Disaster Resilience and Sustainability (IDDRSI) Strategy. Informed by the IDDRSI Strategy, IGAD Member States developed their Country Programming Papers (CPPs) for interventions to be undertaken at the national level and the Regional Programming Paper (RPP) for identified activities to be undertaken at the regional level.