Millions of people in the arid regions of the Horn of Africa face significant threats from increasing severity and frequency of droughts, resulting from dramatically decreased annual rainfall. The 2011 drought in East Africa caused food shortages for ten million people, and led to over 260,000 deaths in Somalia alone. The recent 2016-2017 drought in Kenya resulted in 3 million people facing food insecurity. Historic responses to drought are reactive, involving emergency assistance which saves lives but then disappears when the immediate crisis dissipates. We can end this cycle of drought emergencies in arid regions of Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia. The solution is DRIP - the Drought Resilience Impact Platform, which ensures that even when rains fail, water is available and drought emergencies no longer cause crises for people in the Horn of Africa. DRIP will empower institutions and communities to use evidence-based responses that maintain consistent safe water availability.
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Millions of people living in the drought prone Horn of Africa are facing persistent threat from a lack of safe, reliable and affordable water year-round. The arid regions of Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia have experienced increasing frequency and severity of drought conditions, which are expected to further increase in coming years. The 2011 drought in East Africa caused food shortages for over ten million people across the region and over 260,000 deaths in Somalia alone. The recent 2016-2017 drought in Kenya resulted in over 3 million people facing food insecurity. Preventable death and malnutrition hits hardest in the nomadic and pastoral communities - UNICEF estimates that there are 19.5 million pastoral people in the Horn of Africa, of whom 40 percent survive on less than one dollar a day. Drought emergencies occur when reduced rainfall, exacerbated in recent years by climate change, conspires with with limited community capacity and institutional failures to cause dramatic reductions in access to water for people, livestock and agriculture. This lack of water results in catastrophic crop failures, public health stress, economic shocks, and displacement of people, disrupting patterns of nomadic migration. Historically, responses to drought have been reactive, involving international emergency assistance to save lives and livelihoods, that then disappears when the immediate crisis dissipates. Further exacerbating the economic, political and refugee stresses, in parts of this region al-Shabab openly operates water trucking cartels, blocks food aid, and recruits from communities facing the economic hardships of drought.
We can end the cycle of drought emergencies in the arid regions of Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia. The solution is DRIP - the Drought Resilience Impact Platform, which ensures that even when rains fail, water is still available and drought emergencies no longer affect the Horn of Africa. DRIP is a combination of sophisticated water resource monitoring and forecasting tools providing actionable information and supporting an enabling environment for communities and institutions to proactively ensure that water access is maintained during droughts. DRIP will empower institutions and communities to take coordinated actions that maintain safe water availability during drought conditions. DRIP applies a comprehensive systems design approach to integrate early detection and planning tools with groundwater monitoring and proactive management to enable drought-prone communities to become effective managers in the prevention of humanitarian crises. We will replace expensive short-term response measures like water trucking, with a framework for proactive and sustainable drought resilience. Our existing USAID supported Sustainable WASH Systems Learning Partnership focuses on systems strengthening in the region, and our extensive sensor-based monitoring platforms in the region position us with the tools and expertise to apply DRIP successfully. The pieces are in place, but bold funding is required to reach scale and impact. With additional resources, DRIP will end drought emergencies in the Ethiopian regions of Afar, Somali and Oromia, the Somaliland state in Somalia, and the northern counties of Garissa, Isiolo, Wajir, Turkana and Marsabit in Kenya.