The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Food Programme (WFP), launched the Resilience Analysis Unit (RAU) at a ministerial meeting that took place on November 24th 2014, in Nairobi, Kenya.
Resilience is the ability of an individual, a household, a community, a country or a region to withstand, cope, adapt, and quickly recover from stresses and shocks such as conflict, drought, floods and other natural disasters without compromising long-term development. Vulnerability afflicts over 50% of people who live in the dry lands in Africa. These communities depend in large measure on natural resources for their survival. In the face of climate change, the fragility of these areas has become more pronounced with frequent droughts resulting in declining food security, disrupted livelihoods, increased vulnerability and reduced economic growth opportunities.
IGAD – along with its partners – established a regional Resilience Analysis Unit, a technical hub, tasked to contribute to resilience building by ensuring that households, communities and governments in the region have better information, analysis and guidance to inform investments, development of strategies and development plans and policies. The overall purpose of the Resilience Analysis Unit (RAU) is to build the capacity of the IGAD Secretariat, Member States and development partners in the measurement and analysis of resilience of vulnerable households and communities. Through IGAD’s oversight and coordination, the RAU will inform policies and programmes in Member States to better strengthen the resilience of systems, communities and people vulnerable to the effects of shocks including drought, floods, insecurity and climate change – doing so in ways that strengthen local capacities and accommodate local aspirations and priorities.
The RAU partners highlighted the following key messages during the launch ceremony.
- RAU is expected to play a critical role in producing and harmonizing analysis and monitoring tools, documenting and demonstrating change, and ensuring near real-time dissemination and learning. By measuring how resilience indicators change over time, RAU partners, member states, implementing agencies and beneficiaries can understand the thresholds beyond which households or communities will be able to cope with the next drought or natural disaster. This approach enables RAU partners to create targeted interventions appropriate to each population and context.
- The skills and knowledge generated with RAU’s support will help IGAD, its Member States and partners develop effective resilience programmes at the regional, country and local levels. “We (member states) welcome this innovative collaboration with our development partners toward a more resilient Horn of Africa”.
- For resilience to be more than aspirational, it needs to be grounded in analysis tha tsupports Governments, UN agencies and development partners to understand contexts and communities’ perspectives to make better investment and programming decisions.
- Therefore, the launch of the RAU is a milestone in moving forward the commitments made after the 2011 drought crisis in the Horn of Africa, when donors, governments and UN agencies pledged to work closely together to end drought emergencies in the region by doing business differently. It was underlined that no single agency can achieve that alone. Therefore, we must work together based on common analysis and understanding as the resilience agenda challenges all of us to join forces towards this common goal.
The RAU, which began its operation in May 2014 in Nairobi, will intensify its operation in the coming years to ensure the creation of a critical mass of experts in resilience analysis in the IGAD Region. In addition, it will build on existing national systems and capacities and undertake capacity development on resilience measurement and analysis that will reach a wide audience.