To address the recurrent droughts and related human, production and environmental concerns in a sustainable manner, the Summit of the Heads of State and Government of countries in the Intergovernmental Authority On Development (IGAD) region, held in September 2011, called for the urgent implementation of policies, strategies and programs aimed at building resilience to future climatic and economic shocks.
International development partners, including the African Development Bank Group, welcomed the drought resilience strategy and promised to align their contributions to the region's new initiative as appropriate. In a consultative ministerial meeting held in November 2011, IGAD member countries and their partners agreed to form a Regional Drought Resilience Platform overseen by an Interim Steering Committee under the management of the IGAD Secretariat. The Platform provides the opportunity through which the region's priorities for intervention in support of the drought resilience initiative can be discussed by representatives of all stakeholders.
During the past 18 months, the IGAD Secretariat has taken steps to operationalize the Regional Drought Resilience Platform, establishing a Platform Coordination Unit; conducting meetings of the Interim Steering Committee; and now convening the first meeting of the General Assembly for Drought Resilience, as the final step in the process of establishing the strategic direction and institutional mechanisms necessary for the effective implementation of the drought resilience initiative.
The General Assembly held its first meeting on February 23, 2013 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The meeting was attended by over 200 participants, including Ministers (in charge of Finance, Agriculture, livestock and drought disasters) from IGAD member states and senior representatives of different partners, non-state actors and international institutions. The Assembly received and considered a report from the Interim Steering Committee on the progress made in operationalizing the Platform and discussed mechanisms for supporting the implementation of the drought resilience initiative. Abdirahman Beileh, Acting Director of the African Development Bank Group's Agricultural and Agro-Industry Department (OSAN), represented the Bank at the General Assembly.
The well-attended opening session of the General Assembly included a ceremony covering the signing of the Loan Agreement between AfDB (represented by Lamin Barrow, Resident Representative of the Bank in Ethiopia) and the Government of Ethiopia (represented by Ashide Shide, State Minister for Finance of Ethiopia); as well as the signing of the Grant Agreement between the AfDB (represented by Abdirahman Beileh, Acting Director, OSAN) and the IGAD Secretariat (represented by engineer Mahboub Maalim, Executive Secretary).
In a communiqué adopted by participants, the General Assembly noted the approval by AfDB of Phase I of the Drought Resilience and Sustainable Livelihoods Program in the Horn of Africa for an amount of US $125 million for Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and the IGAD Secretariat; and appreciated the contribution of development partners, notably the AfDB, World Bank, European Union, the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and Institutional Strengthening Action Plan (ISAP) partners (Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland) in supporting the institutional and coordination capacity of the IGAD Secretariat.
The development partners and country delegations present agreed to align their development programs to the requirements of implementing the drought resilience initiative, as set out in the regional programming paper and the country programming papers of the different countries. The African Development Bank and other development partners expressed their commitment to continue supporting the drought resilience initiative under the coordination of the IGAD Secretariat. The next meeting of the General Assembly will be held during the last week of March 2014 in Kampala, Uganda.