The African Drought Risk and Development Network (ADDN) is a region-wide mechanism for peer learning, capacity building and advocacy, cosponsored by the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) and the United Nations Development Programme Drylands Development Centre (UNDP-DDC).
In the past decades, a number of initiatives supported the communities of practice among like-minded practitioners and institutions across the continent to strengthen their capacity for drought risk reduction. However, there has been an increasing recognition of the challenges facing the applied networking landscape in Africa: notably the tendencies of (a) sub-regionalism; (b) division by language; (c) one-sided information flow; (d) limited linkages among the networks; and (e) defining drought simply as a hydro-meteorological phenomenon, as opposed to a dynamic cross-cutting development issue.
The UN Ad Hoc Inter-Agency Working Group on Drought met in Geneva in 2003 to reflect on these challenges. The meeting underscored the importance of adopting a multidisciplinary and region-wide approach to drought-triggered disasters in Africa. ADDN was established in 2005 based on the recommendations of the meeting, with the aim to mitigate the risks of drought and improve human livelihoods in Africa by creating an enabling environment for knowledge sharing and facilitating the up-scaling of proven practices among drought-prone countries.
A range of communication and networking tools and modalities have been developed within the ADDN framework, which include:
- Africa Drought Adaptation Forum (ADAF) to bring together a dynamic and diverse set of participants, spanning policymakers, NGO/CSO practitioners, researchers, development partners and the media, from both Anglophone and Francophone Africa. Organized on a regular basis, each ADAF addresses specific themes and stimulates applied discussion on the key issues linking drought risk and development in Africa. So far four sessions of the ADAF have been held in Africa between 2006 and 2011.
- Monthly newsletters disseminated to interested governmental and nongovernmental parties and individuals both within and outside Africa, to keep them up-to-date on the ADDN activities. The newsletters are also utilized by over 2,000 subscribers as a communication tool to exchange a range of drought-related information (e.g. projects, publications, workshop/training events and employment opportunities) at local, national, regional and broader levels.
- In-field exchange events such as study tours and targeted seminars to support the process of scaling up and out the proven drought risk management approaches and methodologies into development projects, programming and policy frameworks.
- Knowledge Products, such as Drought Risk Reduction Framework and Practices: Contributing to the Implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action (UNISDR, 2009) and Mainstreaming Drought Risk Management: A Primer (UNDP-DDC, 2011), developed based on the knowledge gathered through the ADDN activities to promote policy dialogue and up-scaling of successful pilot practices.
- The Drought Online website (hosted on www.disasterriskreduction.net) as the latest activity of the ADDN, which represents the aim of offering an easy access to a growing collection of drought risk reduction-related resources and providing an avenue for continued dialogue and interaction among the interested network participants beyond geographical boundaries.
In 2010, ADDN support was scaled up to Africa-Asia level, in recognition of the fact that a wealth of knowledge-based resources on drought risk management exists in Africa and Asia, yet the opportunities for sharing successful experiences, disseminating lessons learnt and replicating innovative practices across the regions are highly limited. With the financial support of the Government of Japan, the Africa-Asia Drought Risk Management Peer Assistance Network (AADP) intends to establish robust, yet flexible, inter-regional community of practice for drought risk management, building on the pool of experiences from ADDN and leveraging its well established operational modalities.
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