Journey Towards Resilience and Sustainability
When the severe drought of 2011 hit the Horn of Africa, the Heads of State and Government in the IGAD region came together for a Summit in Nairobi. This Summit marked the beginning of a journey towards resilience and sustainability. The collective resolution of the Summit was to embark on the IGAD Drought Disaster Resilience and Sustainability Initiative (IDDRSI), a roadmap to end drought emergencies and enhance regional resilience. The IDDRSI Strategy, a 15-year proposition for implementation in three 5-year phases starting from 2013, has shown promising results.

Regional State of Cross-Border Resilience Meeting
The Regional State of Cross-Border Resilience meeting in Nairobi from May 27-28, 2024, was an opportune time to review IDDRSI and the state of resilience in the IGAD region and to celebrate the successes achieved so far. The meeting was attended by 124 participants, including representatives from IGAD, the Cross Border Community Resilience (CBCR) team, national and local governments, international NGOs, and local development organisations working in the Karamoja, Moyale, and Mandera Clusters. Other participants included members of the IGAD Partners Forum, such as USAID, Germany, Sweden, the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office, Switzerland, the European Union, Denmark, Finland, Italy, and United Nations agencies.

Objectives of the Event
The event aimed to disseminate the results of resilience programming focusing on Clusters 1, 2, and 3 to promote sustainable development, peace, and prosperity. The specific objectives were to evaluate resilience in cross-border areas within the IGAD region by leveraging the existing IDDRSI framework for resilience measurement, promote livestock and fodder trade by identifying and leveraging opportunities to enhance markets, and share experiences and lessons learned in disseminating Memorandums of Understanding, regional agreements, regional strategies, and protocols among stakeholders to strengthen cooperation and resilience-building efforts.

Keynote Speech and Opening Remarks
On behalf of the IGAD Executive Secretary, Mr. Mohamed Ware, the IGAD Deputy Executive Secretary, delivered the keynote speech. Mr Ware emphasised the importance of understanding border communities’ unique challenges and engaging them as credible partners in their development. He underscored the critical role of cross-border cooperation in fostering resilience and development, highlighting the need for robust partnerships, effective policies, and community engagement. The Chief Guest, Kello Harsama, Principal Secretary in Kenya’s State Department for ASALs and Regional Development, highlighted the significance of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between Kenya and Uganda in 2019, aimed at improving cooperation, coordination, peaceful co-existence, and livelihoods of communities on both sides of the border.

Panel Discussion
Four parallel panel discussions were organised on the following thematic areas.

1. Animal Feed Security and Opportunities
Under Theme 1, the meeting reviewed challenges regarding animal feed security and potential opportunities in the IGAD region. The critical role of the livestock sector in the livelihoods, food and nutrition security, economy, and resilience of Eastern African countries was reiterated. This discussion aligns with IDDRSI Priority Intervention Area (PIA) 2, which focuses on “Enhancing Market Access, Trade and Financial Services.” And PIA 3, “Enhanced Productivity and Livelihoods Diversification.” The meeting highlighted the importance of quality data in informing policies at subnational and national levels. Inadequate policy choices and high feed costs, caused by a lack of quality data, have made feed inaccessible to pastoralists and farmers. The meeting also discussed the disparity in feed availability within regions of a country caused by inadequate planning and limited distribution channels.

2. Transforming the Livestock Sector
Theme 2 focused on transforming the livestock sector in pastoral areas through market access to animals and products. The meeting observed that cross-border livestock trade in the Horn of Africa is informal, extensive, complex, and characterised by cross-border delays and bureaucratic customs procedures. This theme aligns with IDDRSI PIA 3, “Enhanced Productivity and Livelihoods Diversification,” which aims to enhance the livelihoods of pastoral and agro-pastoral communities. The discussion highlighted the need for Member State governments to create an enabling environment for the private sector to provide solutions, including marketing and standards for sustainable livestock production. Additionally, the importance of domesticating and implementing relevant policies to transform the livestock sector was emphasised.

3. One Health Opportunities and Challenges
Theme 3 covered One Health’s opportunities and challenges in human disease prevention, control, and management in cross-border areas. The One Health concept, rapidly gaining traction in sub-Sahara Africa, aims to balance and optimise the health of people, animals, and ecosystems sustainably. This theme is connected to IDDRSI PIA 8, “Social Capital, Gender and Social Development,” The meeting called for raising awareness among stakeholders about One Health to safeguard communities across borders in the Horn of Africa. It also emphasised the importance of promoting environmental conservation, such as tree planting initiatives, smart agriculture, and water source conservation, and collaboration among professionals from animal and human health sectors to address challenges in cross-border areas

4. Climate Change, Conflict, and Pastoral Mobility
Theme 4 discussed the nexus between climate change, conflict, and pastoral mobility and how pastoral resilience can be promoted. The meeting noted that mobility remains crucial for pastoralists to adapt to climatic and environmental changes, access seasonally available resources, and maintain social support networks. This theme ties into IDDRSI PIA 4, “Strengthening Disaster Risk Management.” A study by CEWARN on the nexus between climate change and conflict in collaboration with ICPAC, looking at vegetation index and rainfall’s interlinkage with conflict incidents, revealed a clear link between vegetation health and higher rainfall records and decreased conflict incidents. The meeting noted the need to harmonise transboundary resources and disease management across the countries and promote disease control initiatives over emergency interventions.

Reflections on Regional Resilience
The Fair also reflected on the state of resilience in the IGAD region, particularly the Karamoja, Moyale, and Mandera Clusters. Governments have developed policy and development frameworks in the Karamoja Cluster to unlock the region’s potential and facilitate socio-economic growth. In the Moyale Cluster, livelihoods are increasingly threatened by climate change, resource degradation, and periodic disasters, but infrastructure investments are improving connectivity and presenting opportunities for economic diversification. The Mandera Cluster faces multifaceted challenges, including disparities in access to essential services and limited investment. However, policy and development frameworks are being established to uplift communities’ living standards and unlock the area’s potential.

High-Level Panel Discussion
A high-level panel discussion included IGAD Deputy Executive Secretary Mohamed Ware, Kello Harsama, and Honorable Peter Lokaris, Minister for Karamoja Affairs in Uganda. They discussed cross-border programming initiatives, processes, results, and lessons learned. Hon. Lokaris emphasised the importance of community meetings and cross-border interactions to foster peace and development. Kello Harsama highlighted Kenya’s diplomatic efforts to promote pastoralists’ free movement and resource sharing. Mr. Mohamed Ware discussed environmental challenges and the necessity of regulated mechanisms to ensure peaceful coexistence and resource sharing. The panel acknowledged the progress made through cross-border cooperation and agreed on the need for continuous efforts to sustain and improve the region’s resilience and development.

In his closing of the high-level panel, IGAD Deputy Executive Secretary Mohamed Ware called for a change in attitude towards borderlands. He emphasised that border communities should be seen as opportunities rather than problems. Furthermore, he highlighted the importance of strengthening institutions, law and order, and education in borderlands to exploit their potential effectively. He also noted that borderlands are critical to IGAD’s peace, security, and regional integration mandate and stressed the need for continued efforts to support and develop these areas.