In Africa’s drylands, opportunities to cut vulnerability to drought and famine are within reach

The report Confronting Drought in Africa’s Drylands: Opportunities for Enhancing Resilience aims to advance measures to reduce the vulnerability and enhance the resilience of populations living in dryland areas of Sub-Saharan Africa.
First, our research revealed that better management of livestock, agriculture and natural resources could help enhance people’s resilience in the face of challenges.
For example, in 2010 only 30 percent of pastoralist and agro-pastoralist households in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa possessed enough livestock assets to stay out of poverty in the face of recurrent droughts.
Productivity-enhancing interventions could protect livestock-keeping households and increase the area’s number of resilient households by 50 percent.
Secondly, improved crop production technologies, soil fertility management and adding trees to farms can also deliver resilience benefits by boosting agricultural productivity and increasing drought and heat tolerance of crops.
Trees can also improve households’ food and livelihood security by providing food when crops and animal-source foods become unavailable, and providing assets that can be cut and sold in times of need.
Irrigation can also provide an important buffer against droughts, particularly in the less arid parts of the drylands.
We estimate that the cost of well-targeted, location-specific technical interventions would amount to US$ 0.4 million to 1.3 billion per year.
Even under a best case scenario for the spread of these resilience-enhancing interventions, a significant share of the population living in drylands will remain vulnerable to shocks for the foreseeable future.
For this reason, on the occasion of World Day to Combat Desertification, it is important to remember that enduring solutions will require comprehensive approaches that attack the problem on a number of fronts.

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