KIPPRA hosts a successful three-day regional conference on mitigation of drought and floods impacts

The Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA) Annual regional conference was held from 5-7 June 2018. The theme of the conference was Building Resilience to Mitigate the Effects of Droughts and Floods.

To view the conference video, click HERE

Changes in weather patterns in many regions in Sub-Saharan Africa have seen persistence in occurrence of droughts and floods, which have become more frequent and severe, culminating as emergencies as they cause loss in lives, livelihoods and infrastructure. For Kenya, more than 70 per cent of natural disasters are because of extreme climatic events that include droughts and floods. These emergencies can complicate the realization of Sustainable Development Goals and for Kenya, the Vision 2030 and Big Four Agenda of moving the country to a middle-income country.

Conference delegates were represented from over 150 institutions, including international organisations such as World Food Programme, United Nations, Embassies, Airbus, International Development Research Centre (IDRC) as well academia, regional think tanks various public and public-sector stakeholders including people living with disabilities. The conference provided a platform to share information and experiences on the impacts of droughts and floods as well as disaster management throughout the region and agreed on the action areas going forward

During the official opening, the Chief Guest, Cabinet Secretary, the National Treasury and Planning, Hon Henry Rotich pointed to various actions that the government has undertaken in ending emergencies of drought and floods. In 2011, the government established the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) to coordinate all matters relating to drought management, including implementation of policies and programmes. More recently, the government has developed the National Disaster Risk Management (DRM) Policy 2017, which will serve as the overarching framework on Disaster Risk Management for the country. Further, the National Drought Emergency Fund (NDEF) with an allocation of Sh2 billion has been established and the National Drought Emergency Fund Regulations 2018 approved to operationalize the fund.

Other interventions include the allocation of Sh5 billion annually towards the Contingencies Fund to respond to disasters, integration of disaster risk management in planning and budgeting in both national and subnational levels to reduce risks and the development of a Disaster Risk Financing Strategy to proactively mitigate disasters by increasing the national and county governments’ ability to respond to disasters. At global the level, Kenya is a signatory to the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015–2030.

These initiatives came in the wake of major occurrences of drought recorded in 1999-2011 and 2016-2017 and flood events related to the El Nino phenomenon experienced in 1997/98 and 2003. Currently, the country is experiencing another occurrence of floods. The Cabinet Secretary noted that “prolonged drought and devastating floods in recent years and months have disrupted the livelihoods of millions of Kenyans and caused economic losses”.

Between 2008 and 2011, the total drought loss and damage amounted to Sh968.6 billion. On average, the economic costs of droughts and floods alone is estimated to create a long term fiscal liability equivalent to about 2.4 per cent of GDP annually.

The conference covered a wide range of topics including: socio-economic costs of drought and floods; the impact on gender roles, children, elderly, and vulnerable group, food security and agricultural systems, coping mechanism, coordination and institutional framework for disaster risk management as well as adaptation and mitigation strategies. From the deliberations, the following were observed as critical in ending emergencies of drought and floods.

  1. Scaling up the Early Warning System

Strengthening the current early warning system (EWS) is a priority in planning for, responding to and recovery from the adverse impacts of weather related hazards. The EWS network could be expanded to cover the country’s diverse agro-climatic zones. One way of scaling up EWS is through use of remote sensing technologies and mobile phone applications.

  1. Leveraging on Technology

Implementation of various pilot projects in the country have demonstrated that technology can improve the resilience of affected communities, particularly those prone to droughts and floods. Further, opportunities exist in integrating satellite-based applications to support disaster reduction measures. This will require investments in research and development to enable identification of appropriate technologies while blending modern and traditional technologies to enhance their relevance and increase uptake.

  1. Institutional Strengthening and Coordination

Strengthening coordination between the national and county governments is necessary given that both levels of government have a role to play in disaster management as per Schedule IV of the 2010 Constitution of Kenya. Further, given the intertwined nature of droughts and floods, the mandates of the institutions set up should cover both disasters.

  1. Adoption of Comprehensive Approaches to Disaster Risk Management

Kenya and the region should respond with multi-sectoral approaches and move quickly towards mainstreaming the management of risks from natural hazards into all aspects of development planning and in all sectors of the economy. Countries should ensure a balanced approach that incorporates structural measures, and community-based prevention measures, emergency preparation, insurance, and other non-structural measures such as education and training or land use regulation.

  1. Design Programmes that Promote Gender Empowerment in Building Resilience

Incidences of droughts and floods worsen the burden for women because of challenges in accessing food, sanitation and health services, especially when households are far away from health facilities and other social amenities. The problem is more complex among pastoral communities that migrate with livestock in search for water and pasture, leaving women to take more male responsibilities. There is need to mainstream gender in the interventions.

  1. Mainstreaming Interventions for Vulnerable Groups in Disaster Management

Special interest groups including women and persons with disabilities (PWDs) are disproportionately affected by droughts and floods. It is, therefore, important to understand the vulnerable nature of these groups to disasters and integrate their concerns into disaster management at all levels. Collecting comprehensive information on PWDs is, therefore, imperative.

  1. Enhancing Financing Mechanisms

Deepening the use of financial instruments including insurance and credit will play a key role in building robust coping mechanisms at household and firm level against impacts of droughts and floods. With weather-related insurance and credit, at infancy stage, government support is required to increase participation in disaster risk financing. There is also need for greater collaboration among regulatory agencies, industry associations, and developers of financial products to increase awareness and financial literacy.

  1. Strengthen Research and Development

Investments in disaster risk reduction research will be key while at the same time strengthening the link between research, policy and industry.

  1. Data and Information and Knowledge Sharing

Generation of localized data across the various agro-climatic zones will serve to specifically address the needs of local communities. Coupling this should be a framework for data and knowledge sharing across the various players.

  1. Promoting Sustainable Environmental Management

Efforts to reclaim lost forests and wetlands should be expedited alongside programmes to increase the country’s tree cover to enable them to perform their flood and drought mitigation functions. Geo-thermal, solar and wind power usage could be scaled up to increase their overall share in the country’s energy mix, and help diversify the sources of energy. There is also opportunity to reposition the fodder value chain by strengthening investments in fodder and production of fodder seeds for large-scale pasture fodder production at the national and county levels, especially in areas with abundant idle land.

  1. Land Use and Spatial Planning

Policies need to be put in place to promote water harvesting during the rains, as well as ensuring that there is appropriate utilization and location of settlements. Revisiting the design and building codes is important to ensure they are climate-proofed. There is need for community involvement in cost-effective planning for housing development especially in the arid and semi-arid areas. Focused attention needed to integrate development of housing schemes as a resilience measure in mitigating the impacts of drought and floods.

  1. Investment in Infrastructure and Human Capital Development

To reduce the impacts of drought, it is necessary for the national and county governments to improve infrastructure development (transport, storage and information communication technology) by upgrading the existing ones and expanding to areas with low coverage to allow for timely distribution of food from excess surplus areas to scarce areas, and enhance access to the market. Quality communication networks are also key to supporting social support programmes such as cash transfers by the government and development partners.

  1. Use Incentives to Boost Trade and Investment

Investments that support climate change adaptation through climate-friendly consumption and production decisions can also be promoted through fiscal and trade incentives. Realization of these goals requires, continued regional efforts to eliminate non-tariff barriers and lower common external tariffs, and use of tax incentives to promote investments in industries that produce products that are ecofriendly and build superior household coping mechanisms.