The Horn of Africa faces multiple challenges from natural hazards, particularly relating to too little or too much rainfall, but also including seismic activity. Hazards are increasing in frequency and intensity, in part due to the changing climate, and are compounded into disasters by the challenges of poverty eradication and sustainable development. Building capacity and institutional strengthening at the regional level across the Horn to reduce the adverse effects of such events is fundamental for long-term human security and sustainable development.
The human cost of such hazards and disasters has been lessened by the innovative use of technology, including, among others, the use of forecasting and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing (RS). GIS uses and analyses geographic data to address many issues including environmental concerns. More widespread use of GIS by countries in the region has led to better-informed decision-making around disaster risk reduction (DRR) and response planning. It is also playing an important role in supporting communities to prevent and respond to complex emergencies.
Continued capacity building work by organisations such as the UN Institute for Training and Research and its Operational Satellite Applications Programme (UNITAR/UNOSAT) can strengthen regional capabilities of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and its members states in building resilience and better protecting vulnerable communities.
Specific objectives include:
- Share best practices and innovative approaches in using science and technology to support DRR at the regional level;
- Enhance regional capacity and collaboration in DRR through the use of technologies and improved dissemination of information;
- Encourage greater investments and stronger political commitment for regional action in DRR;
- Create new professional networks amongst policy makers, technical experts, civil society, media and other international organisations who are working on DRR and technological applications across the Horn of Africa.
The conference was extended over 2 work days structured around the following topics:
- Building resilience to natural hazards and disaster risk in the Horn of Africa: challenges and opportunities
- Assessing trends in natural disasters in the Horn of Africa and the economic context and costs
- The value of using science and technology to reduce the impact of disasters
- Application of technology in capacity building for DRR
- Meeting the needs of the 'user': interpreting the science and technologies and communicating for impact
- Science and technology success stories from Africa and globally (Part I)
- Science and technology success stories from Africa and globally (Part II)
- How to ensure synergy between the various initiatives in the Horn of Africa