Wednesday, Jul 17, 2019

IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Centre-ICPAC has been deliberate on the organization’s goal of early warning information for early action. Agriculture and Food Security is now a sector priority area in the Greater Horn of Africa based on IGAD assessment of the region. For this end, ICPAC has now formalized her partnership with NASA Harvest.

NASA Harvest is a new, multidisciplinary Consortium commissioned by NASA and led by the University of Maryland to enhance the use of satellite data in decision making related to food security and agriculture both in the US and worldwide. ICPAC has been engaging in seasonal agriculture monitoring and early warning in the outfit of Eastern Africa Crop Monitor supported by NASA Harvest and Global Monitoring for Environment and Security and Africa-GMES Africa programme.

On 26 June 2019 during the NASA Harvest Conference in Washington DC, the University of Maryland-USA signed a formal MoU with ICPAC to support and collaborate in the thematic application areas of agriculture and crop monitoring, and in future atmospheric monitoring. The MoU is aimed at formal recognition of the technical cooperation. NASA Harvest choose ICPAC as global example of an institution that utilizes Earth Observation (EO) data and tools and conducts research activities and also as a regional policy organization of IGAD. The MoU commits ICPAC and NASA Harvest (represented by University of Maryland) to closer working in applied research for a mutual benefit.

ICPAC was represented by the Director-Dr. GuleidArtan and witnessed by Thematic Assistant - Kenneth Mwangi. NASA Harvest was represented by Dr. Inbal Becker-Reshef - Program Director of Harvest, University of Maryland witnessed by Dr. Christopher Justice - Chief Scientist for NASA Harvest, University of Maryland. Dr. Catherine Nakalembe from Nasa Harvest and Kenneth Mwangi from ICPAC are the focal persons coordinating the activities of the MoU in the region.

“The number food insecure in IGAD region has been on a worrying increasing. This alone is the driver of most regional challenges like peace, security and a cause of human migration. The region needs coordinated interventions and better early warning for early action…” Dr. GuleidArtan during the NASA Harvest conference session.

The first regional crop monitor bulletin Eastern Africa Crop Monitor was published in May 2018. Other editions have been published on September 2018, February 2019, April 2019 and most recent one June 2019. These are seasonal bulletins with information on crop conditions collected in a monthly manner but summarized into the climatic season. For the purpose of enhanced regional agriculture monitoring, ICPAC and NASA Harvest will be sharing more information, technical support and capacity building in the use of satellite and weather information to enhance resilience in Eastern Africa.

Key food security related questions that ICPAC and NASA Harvest together with other partners want to answer are; what kind of crops are we growing? How much food are we growing this season? How much of it will be harvested? What interventions and early actions can be done by the different actors for food security?

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During the week of 24th– 28th June 2019, ICPAC staff, on request from the Ministry of Land, Water and Environment in Eritrea, conducted a five day training to build the capacity at National level in Eritrea on System Administration and Thematic Application of MESA Stations.

 MESA stations are satellite data receiving and processing systems installed in national institutions mandated with environmental monitoring across the Africa continent. The stations were provided between 2011 and 2017 by AMESD and MESA programmes to increase access to Earth Observation (EO) data in the continent. The training was divided into two components; system administration and thematic application. The System Administration component was aimed at building the capacity of Eritrea to monitor and maintain the MESA station to ensure continuous operation. The Thematic Application component was aimed at creating awareness of EO data available for environmental monitoring and to build the capacity of Eritrea in the analysis of these EO data for environmental monitoring to support decision and policy makers for more sustainable environment.

 The training received support from high level government participation through a speech by the Minister of Land, Water and Environment, Honorable Mr. Tesfai Sabhatu during the closing session on the 28th June 2019. The media were present during the last session of the training and the closing ceremony, the footage was aired on Eritrea main television channel EriTV during the Friday Evening News segment. The news coverage is available on YouTube. Youtube link

 The training provided an opportunity for ICPAC to meet and enhance goodwill among several of Eritrean ministries on a technical level. The team was able to meet with the Minister of Land, Water and Environment, Minister of Agriculture, Director General of Environment, General Manager of Asmara International Airport Authority (Meteorology Office is under him) and they promised to participate in the ICPAC activities e.g. GHACOFs.

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July 02, 2019 (DJIBOUTI, Djibouti): The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) held a three-day validation workshop of the draft Strategic Manual for Valuation of Blue Economy in Addis Ababa on June 24, 25 and 26.

Workshop participants were member states focal persons for Blue Economy, National consultants, international and regional consultants from SOGEROM consulting firm, IGAD experts, representatives from the European (EU) Delegation to Djibouti and from the Food and Agriculture organisation Sub-regional Office for Eastern Africa.

The workshop was meant to validate the valuation manual developed by IGAD with technical support from SOGEROM consulting firm, to train on the role of Blue Economy and how it contributes to socio-economic development.

This event was the first component of the project supported by the European Union on the assessment of the Blue Economy approach in IGAD region.

The Director of IGAD Security Sector Program (IGAD SSP), Commander Abebe Muluneh, made an opening speech on behalf of IGAD Executive Secretary. He stressed that IGAD Secretariat has established a Blue Economy Unit to develop the sector at the regional level as a means to contributing to resilience building, socio economic development of the region and job creation especially for youth and women.

He also expressed his gratitude for the support provided by the EU to IGAD through different projects, and specifically to the EU Delegation to Djibouti for the support for the assessment of the Blue Economy in IGAD region.

Program Manager Khola Mohamed from the EU Delegation to Djibouti delivered her opening remarks on the EU support to IGAD region to develop a regional Blue Economy strategy and a five-year action plan. As an input for the strategy, the field assessment will be carried at national and regional levels. She reaffirmed the commitment of the EU to support the socio-economic development in the region and specifically the upcoming IGAD Blue Economy Conference to be held in Djibouti on September 16 and 17 this year.

At the end of the three days, the Strategic Manual for Valuation of Blue Economy was validated and used as a training material. Field work of the experts using the validated valuation manual immediately started from Ethiopia, and further it will serve to collect the data from all member states of IGAD.

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June 20, 2019 (DJIBOUTI, Djibouti): The ICRC Head of the Regional Delegation in Nairobi, Mr. Oivier Dubois, this morning paid a courtesy call to IGAD. Mr. Dubois was accompanied by Mr. Luca Bigger-The Deputy Head of the Regional Delegation in Nairobi, Ms. Dalibroka Topic-The ICRC Chief of Mission for Djibouti, and Ms. Linda Isabel Ngesa-The ICRC Regional Humanitarian Adviser. The ICRC delegation were received by Mr. Mohomed Moussa, the Director for Agriculture and Environment Division. Also in attendance was Mr. Charles Obila- Migration Officer.

Mr. Dubois introduced his team and briefed the meeting on the progress made between IGAD and ICRC on different areas of collaboration including Migration, Mediation, Conflict Early Warning and Peace and Security. On his part Mr. Moussa thanked the delegation for the visit and appreciated the continued strength of cooperation between IGAD and ICRC.

Mr. Moussa highlighted the potential for further collaboration during the upcoming stocktaking meeting of the Nairobi Action Plan on Durable Solution for Somali Refugees and The Regional Consultative Process on Migration scheduled for September and October respectively.

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28-05-2019, ADDIS ABABA (Ethiopia): The Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy of Ethiopia, H.E. Dr. Seleshi Bekele, yesterday inaugurated the 52nd Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum (GHACOF 52) organized by the Climate Predictions and Applications Centre (ICPAC) of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in Addis Ababa.

The GHACOF is convened every four months in order to formulate a consensus regional climate outlook for the June to September 2019 rainfall season over the Greater Horn of Africa region which covers Burundi, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.

It brings together all eleven countries national meteorological agencies, disaster risks management agencies, and partner organizations dealing in climate and weather forecasts matters. GHACOF 52 comes at a time where the region has been facing a drought situation.

In his opening remarks, H.E. Dr. Bekele observed ‘an increasing trend in frequency, intensity and severity of droughts and floods causing loss of thousands of lives and property in the Greater Horn of Africa’. ‘The sectors affected by the climate variability include agriculture and food security, water resources, disaster management, energy, tourism and health’, he added.

Dr. Bekele recalled that June to September was ‘the main rainy season for the northern sector of ICPAC region of responsibility’. According to the Minister, ‘getting a prior knowledge of the seasonal climate would be a pre-requisite step for the policy makers, planners and disaster risk managers in order to design short and medium term social and economic strategies’.

As for the Director of ICPAC, Dr. Guleid Artan, ‘the just concluding raining season in the equatorial sector of the region the March to May (MAM) 2019 seasonal rainfall has been delayed over eastern sector of the region’. He further predicted ‘depressed rainfall conditions are likely to continue over the coming June – September 2019 season in most parts of the GHA region’.

The Geneva-based Director of Climate Prediction and Adaptation Branch from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Mr. Maxx Dilley, also took the floor to highlight the fact that GHACOF was ‘still thriving after 52 seasons’ and was ‘a testimony to the commitment and capacity of the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services in the region, the IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Centre, and […] the stakeholders who have contributed to this continuity and continuing success’.

The forum was mainly supported by the European Union funded projects through the African Development Bank and World Bank. Additional support was from the WISER Support to ICPAC Project funded by DFID, the African SWIFT programme/University of Leeds, and SHEAR ForPAc project.

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