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South Africa’s successful hosting and Chairship of the Inaugural Meeting of the Drought Core Group (DCG)

South Africa was bestowed with the rare honour of hosting and Chairing the DCG on 28 February 2018 at the DIRCO Head Office, Pretoria. The meeting was graced by the United Nations Secretary-General’s Humanitarian Envoy, Dr Ahmed Al-Meraikhi and the Assistant Secretary-General (ASG) for Humanitarian Partnerships with the Middle-East and Central Asia, Mr Rashid Kalikov. A number of Donor Governments and Agencies, Department for International Development (DFID), European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid operations (ECHO), United States of America International Development (USAID), Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Germany and Development Financial Institutions (World Bank – WB, African Development Bank – AfDB, Africa Risk Capacity – ARC) participated in the inaugural meeting. Other key members such as Canada, Saudi Arabia, the African Union and the Islamic Development Bank remain committed to the DCG, although they were not able to attend the meeting.

Deputy Director-General for Global Governance and Continental Agenda at DIRCO, Ambassador Mxolisi Nkosi, delivered welcoming remarks on behalf of the Honourable Minister of International Relations and Cooperation. The inaugural meeting, aptly so, coincided with the Centenary of the iconic Nelson Mandela who, in the spirit of humanitarianism dedicated his entire life toward advancing the course of humanity. Ambassador Nkosi said that South Africa’s humanitarian diplomacy is firmly rooted in the philosophy of Ubuntu “we affirm our humanity when we affirm the humanity of others”, the indomitable spirit of Pan-Africanism and international solidarity. Ambassador Nkosi reaffirmed the full commitment of South Africa’s to doing everything in its power and means to ensure lives are saved, suffering is alleviated by rendering the much needed humanitarian support timeously.

The UN Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Partnerships with the Middle East and Central Asia, Mr Rashid Kalikov presented the current state of play on drought and famine, wherein he emphasised that timely interventions by donors and development partners contributed towards the aversion of famines in 2017 in the Horn of Africa. Mr Khalikov further informed the participants of the risks and outlook for seven key countries: Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Kenya and Chad. Mr Khalikov emphasised that the situation in Southern Africa attracted particular attention as the outlook was eerily similar to the 2015-16 El Nino induced drought. Lack of rainfall has caused irreversible damage to crop production and damage and indications are that 2018 might be a challenging year with humanitarian consequences exacerbating the prevailing situation of food security and malnutrition.

The UN Secretary-General’s Humanitarian Envoy, Dr Ahmed Al-Meraikhi expressed his gratitude to the Government of South Africa for hosting and Chairing the inaugural meeting of the DCG. He said that the DCG is a unique platform to bring humanitarian and development actors together and also stated that the Group should seek to alleviate suffering, both through immediate humanitarian relief and long-term planning for resilience.

Ambassador NKM Seleka, in his capacity as the Chairperson of the Inaugural Meeting of the DCG, underscored that sharing information on risks, projections and consequences early with DCG members would enable them to respectively plan for targeted and prioritised interventions at the country level and use risk and needs data for decisions of support and resource mobilisation and allocation. Ambassador Seleka further highlighted that the DCG is a microcosm of the New Way of working by virtue of its composition, purpose and collaborative spirit. The presence of Development Financial Institutions (DFIs) according to Ambassador Seleka is a unique opportunity to align and deliver humanitarian aid more effectively, thereby making DCG a force multiplier.

The DFIs (WB, AfDB, and ARC) presented their initiatives and financing models related to drought and famine prevention and options for building long-term resilience. Development partners felt that an important role for the DCG was to promote innovative financial solutions and advocate for connect context specific risk finance solutions.

Towards the end of the meeting, the participants reflected on the proposed Terms of Reference of the DCG. Overall, there was consensus on the DCG serving as an information sharing, coordination and advocacy platform triggering early action for drought and famine response and promoting a set of good practices and policy measures for building long-term resilience. It was further felt that the uniqueness of the DCG lies in it being well placed to bridge the humanitarian-development divide and securing as a thought leader, hub and promoter of innovative financing mechanisms.

The meeting agreed that the Terms of Reference will be revised accordingly and will subsequently be circulated to participants for further inputs and validation.

Besides South Africa as the host and Chair, Qatar, Kuwait, USAID, World Bank, African Development Bank and Africa Risk Capacity reaffirmed their membership and would henceforth be known as the Core Members as well as the African Union. Saudi Arabia, Canada, and the Islamic Development Bank expressed their interest in becoming part of the Core Group.

South Africa was requested by the meeting to continue as the Chair of the DCG until the next meeting, date to be confirmed at a later stage, with UNOCHA acting as the Secretariat.

Ambassador Seleka



January/February 2020










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