The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Center, on 13th January signed a Memorandum of Understanding to accelerate the improvement of livelihoods through achieving the MDGs in Eastern and Southern Africa.
The MOU was signed at a ceremony in Nairobi, Kenya, by the Secretary General of COMESA, Mr. Sindiso Ngwenya, and Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and Special Advisor to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, on behalf of the MDG Centre.
The ceremony took place during a one-day consultative forum on a new sustainable dry lands initiative, co-hosted by the two organizations and attended by ministers, lawmakers and experts from Africa and the international community.
The MoU is aimed at offering the region the policy, technical and scientific support to attain the MDGs, with a special focus on food security, climate change and business development. Among the key areas of focus of the partnership will be the initiative for sustainable drylands, aiming to involve various strategic collaborators in the region.
Earlier during the opening ceremony of the consultative forum, Mr. Ngwenya said COMESA was keen to collaborate with the MDG Centre on the drylands initiative given the fact that a large proportion of COMESA comprises drylands and have been neglected resulting in high poverty levels.
“Our collaboration with the MDG Centre represents a unique opportunity to demonstrate that strategic partnerships can make a change in the lives of the marginalized people and contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
“In our partnership with the MDG COMESA, MDG Centre sign MOU Centre, we are going to focus on ensuring that we review past interventions by various stakeholders in the drylands in order to have a clear handle on what works and what does not work; we will focus strongly on improving local natural resources management and governance systems, conflict resolution and management methodologies incorporating traditional and modern conflict resolution and management systems.” He added.
Mr. Ngwenya noted that climate change introduced an additional uncertainty into managing natural resources and promoting sustainable land use management. Prof. Sachs said, “The new Drylands Initiative addresses one of the most important and crisis-ridden parts of the world. All through the drylands of Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, there is an urgent need to scale up the investment in sustainable development. Water stress, animal diseases, extreme poverty, and lack of infrastructure deprive vast populations of basic needs and provoke massive humanitarian and security crises. These are solvable problems, but they require a massive scaling up of science-based action at the regional, trans-national scale.”
“The Drylands Initiative will create a new, bold and practical partnership of governments, regional organizations led by COMESA, international organizations including the Secretariat of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, scientists, business, and civil society, to bring new hope, cutting-edge technology, and best practices to sustainable development in the drylands. The MDG Center of the Earth Institute is honored to partner with COMESA, UNCCD, the Government of Norway, and other partners in this vital initiative,” he added.
Prof. Sachs emphasized the need for a practical approach to solving the dryland countries’ problems focusing on agriculture, pastoralism, health, environmental management, business management, infrastructure and gender among others. He noted that such an approach needed an initiative that would incorporate integrated concepts such as clear budgets with clear timetables coupled with strong accountability, and technology. Drylands are susceptible and marginal but resilient regions with moisture deficits and are food and water insecure. Several COMESA member States, including Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Sudan, have significant The COMESA Secretariat this week lost one of its consultants in the
COMESA, MDG Centre sign MOU dryland areas. Challenges faced by the drylands include climate change, land degradation, as well as inadequate health, education and social services.
By partnering on the drylands initiative, COMESA and the MDG Centre aim to:
• Have a joint action plan for developing an integrated roadmap for drylands over the coming 5-10 years;
• Develop technical goals to be tackled collaboratively by stakeholders;
• Achieve policy harmonisation in sustainable management of dryland and pastoral areas;
• Identify sustainable investment options in drylands.
COMESA, in working with The MDG Centre, will use the technical expertise of its Climate Change Unit and its Specialized Agency for agricultural development, the Alliance for Commodity Trade in Eastern and Southern Africa (ACTESA) to promote sustainable business activities in the drylands.
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