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Global science leaders and experts meet for conference on drought

A farmer in Ghana's Upper West Region collects water from a river near his vegetable plot. Photo Credit: Neil Palmer/CIAT

15-19 August 2016, Windhoek, Namibia - In follow up to its role as UNCCD COP11 President, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism of the Republic of Namibia organized the African Drought Conference in Windhoek, which brought together academics, research institutions, development practitioners, policy-makers and the private sector. The conference aims to develop an implementable strategic framework for enhancing resilience to drought at the African level that will contribute to poverty alleviation, economic development and enhance environmental and human well-being.

Africa is highly vulnerable to drought events with around one-third of the population living in drought-prone areas and 97% of agriculture being rain-fed. Drought events have devastating economic, environment and social impacts in terms of loss of human life, food insecurity, reduced agricultural productivity, degradation of natural resources. The majority of African countries continue to be inadequately prepared to cope with droughts, which are set to become more frequent with climate change.

Drought mitigation takes on more dimensions as gender and tenurial niches arise and overlap. Everisto Mapedza, Social and Institutional Scientist at the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), argued that the gender of land owners and land users influences investment on land and irrigation. The study conducted in Ntcheu District in Malawi revealed paradoxes in land ownership, gendered access and control of incomes, and a strong presence of gender roles, which are social issues exacerbated by and intertwined with rainfall variability and droughts.

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This study was conducted under the framework of the CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Systems.