25th August 2021
AI-CD Secretariat Support Team
The final conference of the African Initiative for Combating Desertification (AI-CD) for Horn of Africa (HoA) was conducted virtually on 25 August 2021 in Kenya, the regional hub of HoA. The conference, hosted by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry (MoEF) and Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI), was well attended by most of the Focal Points (FPs) in the region (Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Eritrea and Djibouti) or their representatives, together with those from the Sahel regional hub. The hosts welcomed over 50 participants that included representatives from international organisations and research institutions, namely, the African Union, United Nations agencies, Kenyan government institutions, the Embassy of Japan in Kenya, and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), among others.
During this event, the multiple achievements, progress and challenges of AI-CD were highlighted from the perspective of networking, knowledge sharing and access to finance while the concrete steps for the way forward were presented.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE FORUM
(1) Opening session
Dr. Joshua Cheboiwo, Director of KEFRI, welcomed the participants and shared the overview and objectives of this online conference.
Next, Mr. Hajime Iwama, Chief Representative of JICA Kenya Office, expressed appreciation for the attendance of all participants and appraised the achievements of the AI-CD since its establishment. He also praised the continuous efforts and collaboration among the member countries, regional hubs, AI-CD partners and development partners despite the challenging situation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, he encouraged dialogue during the conference to elaborate the way forward of the AI-CD prior to the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) 8 in 2022 to be held in Tunisia.
Dr. Joshua Cheboiwo then presented the opening remarks on behalf of Dr. Chris Kiptoo, Principal Secretary of MoEF. He appreciated the attendance of all participants and emphasised the essentiality of the knowledge-sharing platform developed through AI-CD. He encouraged the participants to learn and apply the knowledge to contribute to the national, regional and global agenda for combating desertification.
Mr. Yasuhisa Kitagawa, Deputy Chief of Mission of the Embassy of Japan in Kenya, welcomed the strong leadership of MoEF and KEFRI in the facilitation of AI-CD in HoA, and cited their efforts in developing partnerships with member countries and international organisations. He also explained that the Japanese official development assistance in the Kenyan forestry sector has a long history of over 35 years and praised the dissemination of accumulated knowledge by KEFRI though numerous Third Country Training Programmes, as well as the AI-CD. Additionally, he emphasised the importance of a combination of humanitarian response and a long-term resilience development plan as practiced within the initiative for combating the impacts of climate change. Finally, he mentioned that he is looking forward to enriching outcomes of the AI-CD in its conclusion at the TICAD8 in 2022.
Hon. Mohammed Elmi, Chief Administrative Secretary of MoEF, presented the opening speech on behalf of Hon. Keriako Tobiko, Cabinet Secretary of MoEF. He mentioned the importance of the conference as a unique platform to consolidate critical lessons learned that will support in meeting the objectives of the AI-CD and in contributing to the realisation of global and regional environmental agendas. Furthermore, he recognised the initiative’s accomplishments particularly the publication of guidelines and other informative materials, and encouraged the adoption of best practices adapted to the context of implementing countries. He also stressed that strong social inclusiveness and youth engagement are key to sustainable landscape management. Finally, he expressed the importance of further promoting access to finance of member countries by engaging the development partners and donors through the networks built within AI-CD.
(2) Progress and achievements of AI-CD in HoA and the Sahel regions
Ms. Josephine Wanjiku, member of the AI-CD Regional Hub for HoA, presented the accomplishments in the region such as the organisation of regional forums and technical training workshops, publication of guidelines and brochures, and the creation of a web page for information sharing. To conclude, challenges, lessons learned, and recommendations were summarised.
After that, Mr. Colonel Baba Ba, representing the AI-CD Regional Hub for Sahel, explained the achievements of the region, including the implementation of multiple regional forums and national workshops held by Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Mali and the development of project concept notes (PCNs) by member countries. He also briefly mentioned the diverse funding mechanisms related to combating desertification which were previously explained by donors and development agencies.
The AI-CD Secretariat summarised the various side events organised during the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) Conference of the Parties (COP) 13 and 14, as well as in the Seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD7). During the presentation, the components of AI-CD’s knowledge-sharing platform and knowledge-sharing activities, such as short film making, were explained. Furthermore, online tools and links developed in collaboration with the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) and the UNCCD were mentioned. Also, the Secretariat presented the progress in the promotion of access to finance, including the development of a guideline summarising relevant financial schemes, assistance in refining the PCNs, network development facilitation through meetings with international technical and financial partners (ITFPs), and assistance in integrating the PCNs into ITFPs’ projects. Finally, training courses being provided by JICA to AI-CD countries were introduced together with related follow-up programmes.
(3) Progress and achievements on AI-CD of member countries
The acting FP of Sudan, Dr. Mona Dawelbait, presented the outline of the Sudan National Action Programme to Combat Desertification (SNAP), which has relevance to the AI-CD objectives. She then presented the AI-CD national workshop conducted in June 2021 and the PCN focusing on the improvement of livelihood in degraded land in Kurdufan and White Nile States.
The FP of Somalia, Mr. Kenadid Cali, focused his presentation on the strategies, policies and laws relevant to climate change and combating desertification. He also tackled land degradation status in Somalia, and the functions and priorities of the Directorate of Environment and Climate Change. Additionally, key challenges on halting charcoal business were illustrated.
The presentation of the FP of Eritrea, Mr. Heruy Asghedom, covered the different national networks strengthened to meet the objectives of AI-CD and the capacity building training of the national staff with KEFRI. Furthermore, he mentioned several campaigns addressing the issues of desertification, droughts and land degradation and the project proposal focusing on land degradation neutrality.
The acting FP of South Sudan, Mr. Edward Ugo, presented the overview of its pilot project (Peri–Urban Focus Community Farming to Build Resilience to Climate Change in Post-Conflict South Sudan) that started in 2019 with support from JICA. The key findings and outcomes of the baseline assessment, awareness creation workshops and the technical study tour to KEFRI were explained among the participants.
The FP of Djibouti, Dr. Tabareck Mohamed, briefly explained the country effort in planting different tree species which already achieved the planting of about one million seedlings in five districts. He also presented the information regarding the date palms to be planted as a measure for combating desertification.
Dr. Monicah Kinuthia, Ministry of Devolution and the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands, presented the case study from the JICA-supported project called “Enhancing Community Resilience Against Drought in Kenya” (EcoRAD 1 & 2). In her presentation, she explained the approach of controlling an invasive alien plant species called prosopis through the training of power saw operators and charcoal production. She also covered a case study on water resources database development through a combination of in-office update, fieldworks and GIS mapping.
(4) Opportunities for AI-CD countries to accelerate efforts in combating desertification to strengthen resilience to climate change
The representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Mr. Martin Ager, delivered a presentation of the trends, main causes and negative effects of desertification, and a summary of various remedial approaches. Furthermore, on-going projects were presented, such as the Great Green Wall, that can provide potential collaboration in implementing AI-CD activities.
The representative of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), Mr. Ibrahim Sow, explained the implementation status of the two principal funding schemes in HoA: GEF-7 and the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF). Additionally, he mentioned the preparation process of the upcoming investment cycle (GEF-8) and presented on-going initiatives related to the Great Green Wall. Also, programmes to strengthen the monitoring and reporting capacity of the UNCCD member countries were highlighted.
Last speaker of this session was the World Bank representative, Mr. Hisham Osman, who briefly commented on the institution’s upcoming investment of over USD 5 billion to support the restoration of degraded lands and to improve agricultural productivity in eleven African countries, including Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Sudan. Moreover, the Global Partnership for Sustainable and Resilient Landscapes (PROGREEN), which supports countries’ efforts to reduce forest loss and improve land fertility, was presented
During the open discussion, session chair from the AI-CD Secretariat, representative of GEF, and the participants talked about how countries and institutions can approach GEF and get involved in the upcoming GEF-8. The GEF representative, Mr. Ibrahima Sow, explained the steps to be taken to apply for the umbrella programmes, and encouraged countries to actively participate in the national programming exercise organised during the preparation of GEF-8. Additionally, the ambitious initiative of the Great Green Wall was briefly discussed with an emphasis on its diverse goals and multiple stakeholders.
(5) Closing session
As synthesis and way forward, KEFRI and the AI-CD Secretariat summarised the actions to be taken by stakeholders according to the three pillars of AI-CD. They also shared upcoming important events for AI-CD such as TICAD 8 to be conducted next year.
Following the way forward, Mr. Takahiro Ikenoue of the Global Environment Department of JICA Headquarters praised the remarkable achievements delivered by member countries and encouraged stakeholders to accelerate efforts in promoting access to finance.
Finally, Mr. Alfred Gichu, Head of Directorate of Forest Conservation of MoEF, made the closing remark on behalf of the Principal Secretary of MoEF by appreciating the initiative’s progress. He also requested the scaling up of activities in combating desertification based on the robust foundation created by AI-CD.