UNESCO’s contribution towards a National Drought Policy

UNESCO Intersectoral Priority Africa project: “Drought Monitoring at the Country Level – Towards Regional and National Drought Mitigation and Risk Management and Planning Strategies in Africa”

The Africa Department, in collaboration with programmes sectors and field offices, elaborated a portfolio of projects that were submitted to the Intersectoral Platform Priority Africa. The projects focus on water, environment education and culture of peace, promotion of African languages, teacher training in STI and youth and gender.

Eleven projects have received funding to enable the implementation. These projects are being implemented jointly with UNESCO's partners under the overall coordination of the Intersectoral Platform Priority Africa.

One of these projects Drought Monitoring at the Country Level - Towards Regional and National Drought Mitigation and Risk Management and Planning Strategies in Africa strengthen the capacity of African countries to use the drought monitor as an operational tool for near real-time monitoring and seasonal forecasting and raise awareness of the impact of drought on women and youth. It’s led jointly by the Division of Water Sciences of the Natural Sciences Sector (SC/HYD) and Africa Department (AFR) and is a contribution to the International Hydrological Programme (IHP) of UNESCO.

The project comprised three main components, which concluded their results in the following events:

1. Scientific/technical workshop on drought monitoring, including UN organizations, water centres, universities, governmental agencies from different parts from Africa, and NGO's;

2. Multi-stakeholder workshop on Gender Mainstreaming in Drought Management, with the participation of UN and regional intergovernmental organizations, government agencies, research institutions, NGOs and youth organizations; and

3. Youth event organized during the 8th UNESCO Youth Forum (29-31 October 2013) in Paris and the installation of the upgrated version of the African Drought Monitor.

The overall objectives of the project are to:

1. Strengthen the capacity of African countries to use the drought monitor as an operational tool for near real-time monitoring and seasonal forecasting;

2. Raise awareness on drought impacts  on vulnerable and disadvantaged groups, focusing particularly on the vulnerability of women and girls to drought and how drought affects domestic and agricultural water management in rural areas, to promote gender and youth mainstreaming in drought policies by taking into account needs of women and girls in drought situations and through effective participation of women in decision-making regarding drought;

3. Develop gender responsive approaches to biodiversity conservation and sustainable development, particularly on drought mitigation planning.

Within the framework of this project, a scientific/technical workshop and the Multi-stakeholder workshop “Gender Mainstreaming in Drought Management” took place at the Palais de Congres in Niamey, Niger, from 21 to 23 October 2013 and were organized in collaboration with the AGRHYMET Regional Centre of the African Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS). These workshops were followed by a joint workshop to present the conclusions and recommendations of each of the workshops.

The purpose of the scientific/technical workshop was to bring together experts from different organizations and to link regional centres such as AGRHYMET, the Drought Monitor Centre in Nairobi and Harare, the Climate Service Centre in South Africa responsible for the SADC region, different basin authorities like the Volta Basin Authority, the Niger Basin Authority, the Lake Chad Commission and representatives from ministries and committees like CLISS which is the Permanent Inter-State Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel, the SARCOF - Process, which is the South African Regional Climate Outlook Forum and crises Prevention Network. In addition to the African participants the University of Princeton and a representative for the Latin American Group and ICIWaRM was present.

The Multi-stakeholder workshop “Gender Mainstreaming in Drought Management”, which brought together over 30 water and gender experts representing UN and regional intergovernmental organizations, government agencies, research institutions, NGOs and youth organizations from Africa and other continents, has made an important contribution towards promoting gender equality in water management.  The workshop discussions covered a broad range of issues related to gender and water, with a specific emphasis on drought impacts on women and girls and women’s role in drought mitigation, adaptation and response. National and community experiences on gender mainstreaming in water managements were shared at the workshop. The recommendations of the will be an important input to UNESCO’s future work towards developing policy guidelines on gender mainstreaming in drought management. A field visit to a “Women Farmers Community” in Libore at the outskirts of Niamey was organized as part of the gender workshop. The field visit provided a unique opportunity to exchange with women farmers about their successful experience of growing vegetable crops, managed solely by women, after a long battle to be allowed to grow vegetable on a formerly rice field. Ten years after the creation, men from surrounding communities joined them to grow crops side by side and are challenging the women farmers.

The final result of this project is to have an operational systems in place to monitor drought in near real-time and to provide seasonal forecast of droughts which is very important for water resources management and food security and well being especially for women. Furthermore the scientific/technical workshop provides guidelines for policy and an institutional framework for strengthening drought monitoring in Africa.

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