East Africa seeks joint efforts to tackle severe drought
Four east African leaders are calling for joint efforts to tackle food insecurity in the region which is affecting millions of people due to multiple seasons of failed rains.
In a joint declaration on regional cooperation on the current drought released in Mogadishu on Wednesday night, leaders from Kenya, Somalia, Djibouti and Ethiopia resolve to cooperate on cross-border collaboration and efforts to establish security and stability in Somalia to ensure an effective response to the drought and to enable further progress in peace building and state building in Somalia.
"We further commit to the provision of appropriate protection and assistance to those compelled to leave their areas of origin as a consequence of the drought, including those who have fled to neighbouring countries," the leaders said.
Presidents Ismail Omar Guelleh of Djibouti, Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed of Somalia and Ethiopia's Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn resolved to facilitate a more comprehensive response and strong partnership.
The leaders said multiple seasons of failed rains and global weather patterns have negatively affected the resilience mechanisms of millions of their people.
"This is evident in the immediate humanitarian crisis facing us today and will show up in longer term socio-economic vulnerability in communities that today are selling all their assets and uprooting their families for survival," they said.
They said the situation, which may worsen in Somalia and result in a renewed famine over the coming months, could also have security and political implications in the region and beyond, as coping mechanisms are eroded and tensions over dwindling resources risks sparking conflict.
The leaders said scores of people are moving both within countries and across borders in the hope of increasing their chances of survival.
"This upheaval is taking a particularly heavy toll on children and women, and makes people vulnerable to exploitation, human rights abuses and to criminal and terrorist networks. Drought-related disease outbreaks and inter-communal conflict are already on the rise," they said.
They pledged to be consulting on a regular basis to review progress on these issues, and to agree upon any necessary collective action that will help the four countries and region respond to this emergency.
"We have instructed our respective foreign ministers and drought response teams to work together and keep us briefed," said the leaders.
"While each of our governments is mobilizing to respond, the dire situation calls for international collaboration and regional partnership between governments, civil society, aid organizations, business and international donors."
They appealed to the international community to address the underlying structural issues that commonly affect the region's economies, environments and communities, including cross-border rangeland and water resource management.