A joint statement by the IGAD Executive Secretary, Dr Workneh Gebeyehu and the FAO Subregional Coordinator for Eastern Africa, Dr Chimimba David Phiri.
NAIROBI, Kenya, November 18, 2021 – Vulnerable communities in the IGAD region continue to experience a complex mix of re-enforcing shocks and stresses that are eroding their resilience to food and nutrition insecurity. As of October 2021, 26 million people were already facing high levels of food insecurity (IPC Phase 3+), according to the Food Security and Nutrition Working Group (FSNWG), which is co-chaired by the Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Due to the threat of worsening drought conditions, food insecurity will likely rise during the first half of 2022 across the Horn of Africa. Urgent action is therefore required now to safeguard livelihoods, save lives, and prevent possible starvation in some areas.
Drought conditions are already affecting the arid and semi-arid lands of Kenya, southern and central Somalia, and Belg-receiving areas of southern and south-eastern Ethiopia as consecutive poor rainfall seasons have driven below-average crop production, rising cereal prices, poor rangeland conditions, reduced livestock production, and drought-related animal deaths in many areas.
Moreover, as forecast by the IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC), the start of the current October-December 2021 rainy season has been significantly delayed, with little to no rainfall observed to date in many areas, raising the probability of another poor season. Should this occur, agricultural and pastoral conditions will further deteriorate, causing households already struggling with the effects of multiple, concurrent hazards (climate variability, conflict, COVID-19, and desert locusts) to employ negative coping strategies and reduce their food consumption. This is a major source of concern as food insecurity in the region has historically increased sharply following consecutive poor rainfall seasons.
IGAD Member States continue to work in collaboration with development partners to anticipate and respond to various food security threats and build the resilience of vulnerable communities to recurrent threats and crises. During the desert locust upsurge, for example, the unparalleled support of resource partners and multi-agency coordination averted USD 1.3 billion worth of cereal losses, meeting the cereal requirements of 29.1 million people. Desert locust livelihood recovery support continues for more than 200 000 households.
IGAD and FAO share a long-standing history of successful partnership and collaboration in building the region’s resilience in several areas, including but not limited to: livelihood support to strengthen resilience against droughts; food security information and analysis; early warning and disaster risk management; implementation of cross border actions in close collaboration with the respective communities, local and national authorities; conflict prevention; natural resource management; market access and trade; and capacity building; institutional strengthening and coordination through the IGAD Drought Disaster Resilience and Sustainability Initiative (IDDRSI).
Such resilience-building efforts have significantly improved the ability of households to withstand the impacts of shocks. However, the increased frequency of climatic hazards, combined with the effects of other stressors, is threatening these hard-won gains. It is, therefore, crucial to act now to protect these resilience gains and prevent more people from sliding into food insecurity and malnutrition.
To this end, we must support farmers and herders who are experiencing the impacts of poor harvests, depleted food and animal feedstock, and rising food and water prices. More specifically, IGAD and FAO call for a scale-up of contributions to existing and future Humanitarian Response Plans (HRPs) as the response remains grossly underfunded in the relevant countries. Through rapid, collaborative action by all actors, we can safeguard the lives and livelihoods of communities currently bearing the worsening effects of the drought, while at the same time, protecting households’ longer-term resilience.
“ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, March 21, 2016 – Some of Africa’s leaders are responsible for instability on the continent because they have failed to manage diversity in their societies, the former Nigerian President, General Olusegun Obasanjo, has said” (TANA Forum – ‘Press Statement: “Some African leaders to blame for conflicts” – Obasanjo’ 21.03.2016).
Today Olusegun Obasanjo as the Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union for the Horn of Africa. One of his key objectives and mandate is to mediate in the Ethiopian conflict. Alas, he has a mountain to climb and it’s an unforgiving job. This is a position and a office, which isn’t for the kind-hearted. Since, the parties here are in the trenches and in a brutal war. They are not in this for a small token or to get global recognition.
Obasanjo is now meddling and intervening within a battle, which has become broader and wider than what the Tripartite Alliance anticipated. The alliance of FDRE, SOE and Amhara allies didn’t anticipate the formation of a broad alliance of nationalities to combat the Tripartite Alliance. Therefore, at this point, the war isn’t only Addis Ababa-Asmara versus Mekelle. No, it is much more wider and with the objective of rectifying the leadership structure of the nation.
This is why the African Union (AU) is late here and the talks is only stalling things. The mediator can drop a statement saying today: “I am optimistic that common ground towards a peaceful resolution of the conflict can be secured. The interlocutors I have engaged on all sides have stated their wish for peace, security, and stability in Ethiopia. The main point of difference between the actors is in the means by which they seek to achieve this essential objective. War represents a failure of politics. Thus dialogue remains the only reliable and sustainable avenue to peace. There is no military solution to the conflict and battlefield victory cannot guarantee political stability in Ethiopia. I, therefore, appeal to the leadership of all sides to halt their military offensives. This will allow an opportunity for dialogue to continue to progress. Such talks cannot deliver in an environment of escalated military hostilities” (African Union – ‘Statement on the Prospects for Peace in Ethiopia by H.E. Olusegun Obasanjo High representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission for the Horn of Africa’ 14.11.2021).
It is like Obasanjo haven’t learned from his own experience. Just 5 years ago as a Tana Forum speaker or delegate. He spoke of the reason why we are seeing a war within Ethiopia today. The diversity and marginalization of certain groups is the reason for the conflict in Ethiopia. That’s because one man wanted to consolidate all power and use old grievances to settle it. He wanted to overcome the TPLF and by doing so hurt the Tigrayan ethnic group. This he got done by getting allies who has suffered, because of the leadership in Mekelle.
Deep down, I think Obasanjo know the difference and the difficulties here. The parties are not willing to really talk. These are just cordial meetings to buy time. We know the United Front against Prosperity Party is running towards Addis Ababa. This is just common knowledge as they are aiming to use arms to change the leadership. They are not trusting or having faith in negotiations. That’s why the former President is to hopeful in this manner.
I don’t see Abiy or Afewerki talking to Debretsion. I wish I could, but these have already vilified and gone total genocide on the enemy. They are arresting people for being associated or allegedly associated with either Tigray Defence Force (TDF) or Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). Therefore, seeing them talking or having a meeting seems unlikely. If the TPLF/OLF went to talk. I would be worried of arrests and authorities surrounding the venue. This is why the hope is very dishonest at this moment of time.
The talks Obasanjo was maybe positive and had a good vibe. However, those vibes will not change the matters on the ground. As the FDRE is going into a “survival campaign” mode and the TDF-OLA is slowly advancing towards their target. This is not a time or a moment of thinking these will give way. No party will earn on it and that would only salvage the reign of Abiy. A ruler, which is a warlord and someone who many wants gone. Therefore, if Obasanjo wants to save his term or if he wants peace. That is two difference objectives….
I don’t see the hope or the possibilities of quick or brief ceasing of military operations. That means an unilateral ceasefire, which means all parties would silence their guns. The Tripartite Alliance never did that and only played the facade of that. While they we’re still annexing Western Tigray and besieging the rest of Tigray region. Therefore, Obasanjo is too positive or naive. I doubt any of the parties will give way. These parties will fight to the death or until they have to go to exile. Peace.
The African Union (AU) has today appointed the former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo as the High Representative for the Horn of Africa. The African Union Commissioner might have the best interests at heart here and the will to make a difference. However, at this point of time and with the leaders at today. This appointment will go nowhere.
The AU could have appointed a saint, a maverick and a superstar to this role. They could have had the best negotiator even known to mankind and it still wouldn’t resolve anything. In 2021 and with the current head of states. There will not be any will or resolve to silence the guns. No, that’s not happening.
Mr. Obasanjo is getting another pay-check. He is getting another retirement-fund and additional high ranking official status. Being a diplomat and getting VIP treatment in Addis Ababa. He will not lack the perks and the bottle-service. However, that will not change the matters on the ground.
If there would have been a possible change, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) would have made some significant moves. The IGAD is already there to do this and ensure stability on the Horn of Africa. As IGAD says itself: “IGAD to be the premier Regional Economic Community (REC) for achieving peace and sustainable development in the region. Mission: Promote regional cooperation and integration to add value to Member States’ efforts in achieving peace, security and prosperity”.
So with that in mind, the Horn of Africa should already have an organization and the apparatus to achieve peace and security. Now, that is futile and lacking. That’s why the AU is boosting it’s operation and hiring Obasanjo to make things look good. However, he will not go anywhere or get anything done. At least nothing substantial or fruitful. Except for cashing-in and enjoying VIP treatment.
Obasanjo will get the cold-shoulder, which Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok has gotten. Not to mention the double-speaking and erratic diplomatic cables of Mogadishu. Which we have seen in coordination with the AU Chair of the Year Felix Tshisekedi. When Hamdok have gotten silent treatment from Addis Ababa. Not like Asmara will be friendly either. Djibouti President Ismaïl Omar Guelleh will be all smiles, as he has all the major powers having military bases and that’s why he feels untouchable.
The former Nigerian President have to magic. He has to show all of his tricks of his trade and negotiations. As there are several of conflicts and not lacking of guns in rotation. There are so much hurt, pain and social animosity. That it isn’t a steady and strong Horn of Africa at this point. No, everyone is pinned in one conflict or another.
If it is battle of clans within Somalia. If it is Al-Shabab sending suicide bombs or retaliating at the AMISOM mission somewhere. If it is Issa-Somali militias targeting Ethiopian regions of Ogaden and Afar. If it is all the Liberation Fronts going to war against the Tripartite Alliance within Ethiopia. If it is the skirmishes and the simmering conflict between Ethiopia and Sudan over the Al-Fashqa triangle. Together with the genocidal war in the Tigray region of Ethiopia. There is no stop of warfare and conflicts currently happening.
That is why Obasanjo have not only a mountain to climb but several actually. In combination with the elections in Somalia. There is no shortlist of hurdles and hardships. If he will even touch on those and not only smile for pressers. It would be likely to have low-level consultations and meetings. However, he will not gather all the hopeful and neither be allowed to meet all parties. No, the states involved rather wants to annihilate and get rid of enemies. They are not willing to talk to them. That’s why IGAD has failed and why Obasanjo will be left astray as well.
Obasanjo will be a nice-poster child for this. He will bring good publicity but not achieve anything. That is the outset and the ones around making sure of. It is not like the heads of state is changing in a matter of no-time and that these are suddenly becoming will partners of dialogue. Especially, when they haven’t considered or even tried before. That’s why the mission of the High Representative is futile.
He should call up IGAD and get their in-put. Because, there is nowhere to hide here and the snakes are ready to bite. Peace.