Section 5: Key Actions within 6 Months of Disaster
Kenya drought response programme
In 2011 ActionAid Kenya responded to a drought in the Horn of Africa, considered to be the worst to afflict the country in over 60 years. ActionAid Kenya responded to the drought by designing a comprehensive drought response programme that addressed the immediate needs linked to building long-term resilience amongst the communities to be better able to cope with future disasters.
Using the rights-based approach, the programme was designed in such a way as to recognise violation and denial of rights as key drivers of vulnerability. The design placed ‘vulnerability’ at the centre of all programme interventions. Using Participatory Vulnerability Analysis (PVA), it was quite clear that the drought, like in all emergency situations, had reinforced inequality and impacted upon the most vulnerable members of the community, women in particular. The social drought research study that the programme commissioned during the first phase revealed the drought as cyclical, and showed how climate and political problems are shortening the cycle and increasing the depth of the problem. Thus the programme was also designed, right from the beginning, to address the structural inequalities through advocacy and policy-making, rooted in the experience of disasteraffected communities.
The programme design took into account the traditional coping mechanisms of the communities. Thus the drought response programme was particularly built around communities’ already established livelihoods, enhancing their ability to improve on what they were already doing and have been doing for generations to cope. These included livestock restocking, food- and cash-for-work around water harvesting, soil and water conservation. The programme also integrated women’s leadership in all activities, and accountability to disaster-affected communities through transparency boards, community reviews and social audits and complaint mechanisms.
The food- and cash-for-work programmes ensured that communities addressed their immediate food and other needs, yet building on the coping strategies they had been practising for generations to address longer term resilience to drought. The policy and advocacy efforts linked to the drought response and resilience building are having a significant impact, as evidenced by the signing of the Nairobi Declaration on Drought and the subsequent establishment of the National Drought Management Authority through an act of parliament. It is assumed that this Authority will enhance preparedness for future droughts and contribute to limiting the consequences of future crisis.