The drylands of the Horn of Africa have received increased attention since the bruising drought in 2011 brought millions of already marginalized people to the brink of disaster. Launched in 2010, the MDG Centre’s Drylands Initiative aims to address the unique development challenges of these areas and provide a long-term development strategy to move beyond emergency relief to full-scale sustainable development in the Horn of Africa. The Initiative brings the Millennium Villages Project approach of integrated development to the benefit of pastoral and agropastoral communities in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda.
The Initiative relies on strategic partnerships to carry out its mission. A partnership with the Islamic Development Bank has resulted in the Bank committing funding for work in Somalia, Djibouti and Uganda, as well as providing financial and administrative support plans to scale up key agribusiness interventions. Partnerships with local governments have seen the implementation of cross-border interventions and trade.
Though the 30-50 million pastoralists living in the drylands represent the world’s poorest and most marginalized people, progress has been made. The Millennium Village in Dertu, Kenya, exemplifies the ability of dryland communities to see the same progress found in the Millennium Villages. Specialized farming techniques, including multi-story gardening, have boosted incomes, increased nutrition and provided food security in times of drought. In 2013 projects in Dertu have set out to immunize livestock and work with drought tolerant crops to increase community resilience to drought and disease, the two largest threats to nomadic herding communities. The MVP program in Dertu is also generating viable business opportunities through improved livestock marketing and promotion of the developing camel trade. With the successes of the MVP program in Dertu, The Drylands Initiative is working to scale up these programs to the national and regional level.