The Horn of Africa is an area with scarce natural resources and that is vulnerable to food security crises, threatening traditional pastoral livelihoods. In 2011, the Horn of Africa faced the worst drought in 60 years, leading to famine in Somalia, and emergency food insecurity levels in Kenya and Ethiopia. At the peak of the drought, more than 13 million people across the region required humanitarian assistance, and more than 700,000 refugees fled Somalia.
At the heart of USAID’s resilience programming is a goal to reduce the humanitarian caseload in the Horn of Africa by one million people. To that end, USAID established the Horn of Africa Resilience Network (HoRN) [formerly known as the Joint Planning Cell] in 2012 to support the use of mutually enforcing activities to build resilience capacities to shocks, and to support learning and collaboration across the network.
USAID Kenya/East Africa held the second HoRN Annual Workshop on September 11 – 13 in Nairobi. Facilitated by Africa Lead, the event had about 100 participants in attendance. Participants included implementing partners from Uganda, Somalia, Ethiopia, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), USAID representatives from bilateral and regional missions, and the Center for Resilience in Washington D.C.
The main objectives of the HoRN Annual Workshop were to: appreciate the current thinking around finance at the community, county/subnational, and national/regional levels; share best practices and learning from across the region on financing, review the Regional HoRN Resilience Framework 2.0 that was developed in 2016 to serve as common reference for resilience programming in the region, and to identify critical strategies for moving the HoRN effort forward.
The structure of the workshop included panel discussions, plenary discussions, and small working group sessions that centered on access to finance on the first day, reviewing of the Regional Resilience Framework 2.0 on the second day, and a USAID-only staff meeting on the last day. The combination of sessions and participants provided a platform for rich discussions from first hand experiences, gaps, and lessons learned in implementation of regional resilience programs.
In his remarks during a networking session held for all participants, Patrick Wilson, USAID Kenya/East Africa Deputy Mission Director, noted that, “Resilience [building] is a science; it is real data and evidence that can be used to make informed decisions to improve people’s lives in the communities. To make the best use of the data and evidence, partners have to collaborate as a first principle to achieve greater impact in building resilience. The issue of resilience has attention from the highest level of development policy makers in Washington and across the world. You [implementing partners] are the leaders in the field to make a difference in improving the lives of the affected in the community.”
At the end of the annual meeting, partners identified key takeaways and areas of improvement for increased collaboration and learning across the region. These include: improved coordination mechanisms among USAID missions, national and sub-national governments, and implementing partners; development of a disaster risk financing framework; use of real data and evidence to inform resilience programming and adaptation; complementarity in implementation of resilience programs which will enhance collaboration and coordination; a scaled up the role for the private sector; and incorporation of joint work planning for strategic collaboration.