As the first of the six lecture series, “Research meets Development: Drought resilience in Sub-Saharan Africa”, a kick-off event was held at Deutsche Welle in Bonn, Germany, on 6 April.
The event started with an introductory statement by MinR. Stefan Schmitz, Commissioner at the German Federal Ministry of Cooperation and Development (BMZ), followed by a keynote address by Professor Robert McLeman from the University of Wilfrid Laurier and a panel discussion. The panelists were Mr. Schmitz, Professor McLeman, Mr. Pradeep Monga, Deputy Executive Secretary of the UNCCD, and Mr. Matthias Mogge from the Welthungerhilfe. The panel discussion was moderated by Dr. Micheal Bruentrup from the German Development Institute (DIE).
The transdisciplinary panel discussed the current critical drought situation in the Horn of Africa, in particular in Somalia where many people are risking their lives due to drought. It addressed the threats of drought from various angles, the challenges and the remedial measures in a wide spectrum of policy options. G20 Agenda, the Marshal plan for Africa under the German G20 Presidency, the role of job creation for young people were also discussed, as well as the linkage between drought, human migration, rural adaptation and conflict. The panel discussion revealed drought as a threat multiplier for human security. Food and water shortage is one of the serious consequences. Mr. Mogge reflected his recent visit to Somalia and Ethiopia, quoting the new Somalia president listing the country’s three major priorities as “water, water and water”.
UNCCD’s key action-oriented policy aspects of drought resilience were highlighted by Mr. Monga as (i) monitoring and early warning systems; (ii) vulnerability assessment; and (iii) risk mitigation measures. A national drought policy needs to be developed based on the principles of risk reduction and the paradigm shift from reactive to proactive approaches with engagements of the private sector and other stakeholders. Mr. Monga also introduced related initiatives by the UNCCD including the support to countries for achieving Land Degradation Neutrality.
The panel discussion was followed by an interactive dialogue with the event participants. Questions were raised about a changing relationship between rural and urban interaction, better resource management and challenges of bottom-up/top-down approaches. As a response to a question, Prof. McLeman listed water security, inter-regional migration and reliable local governance as keys to future sustainable development consideration for Africa.
The lecture series continues until 13 July. It is co-organized by DIE, UNCCD, BMZ, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), KFW and University of Bonn.
For more information about the lecture series, visit (external link): https://www.idos-research.de/veranstaltungen/details/drought-resilience-in-sub-saharan-africa/