21-23 August 2013, Eldoret, Kenya- Building Resilience to Climate-Related Risks was the central theme of the 35th Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum (GHACOF 35), which took place in Eldoret, Western Kenya.

The Forum was an interactive event bringing together applications experts from critical socio-economic sectors, governmental and non-governmental organizations, decision-makers, scientists, civil society stakeholders among others, to reflect on the implications for critical climate-sensitive sectors of the projected seasonal climate outlook for the region for the period September - December 2013.

A high-level panel opened the Forum, with representatives from the Kenyan Government, including the Principal Secretary of the Ministry of Environment, Water & Natural Resources, Mr. James Teko Lopoyetum, the IGAD Secretariat, Kenya Red Cross (KRC), East African Community (EAC) as well as several UN agencies and national meteorology departments. The panel underlined the relevance of climate outlook forums for early warning, disaster preparedness and risk reduction, and overall security and development in the region.

The Secretary General of the Kenya Red Cross, Mr. Abbas Gullet, gave a keynote address about KRC’s response to the 2011 drought in East Africa and explained how new partnerships and innovative solutions, including a nationwide fundraising campaign, were effective in overcoming the challenges provoked by the disaster.

UNOSAT organized a parallel event focusing on geospatial applications, also linked to a UNOSAT-IGAD capacity building project supported by the Government of Norway. Roshni Dave of UNOSAT, who organised the event, explains: “We took this opportunity to raise awareness on the role and benefits of geospatial technology for DRR, especially for the IGAD region”. Several senior IGAD senior staff took part in the event, as well as representatives from partner organizations and national meteorology departments.

The UNOSAT event was also a demonstration of the constant growth of role of geospatial information in DRR worldwide and its connection with building climate resilience across the IGAD region. Among the participants: experts from ICPAC, ICPALD, USAID-Africa, the Ethiopian and Sudanese Meteorology Services Agencies, the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute, as well as the Centre for International Earth Science Information Network at Columbia University, and the University of Djibouti.

Photo: Roshni Dave (centre), the UNOSAT regional project coordinator, together with experts during the Foruum in Eldoret.