By Abubakarr Harding
To call for a more integrated approach and response to climate change, ahead of the 27th session of the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP27) that will take place in Egypt from 7-18 November, Heads of State and Ministers from the East and Horn of Africa will meet in Kampala, Uganda, from 27 to 29 July.
The event is being organized by the Government of Uganda and the International Organization for Migration (under the leadership of Alhaji Sanusi Tejan Savage- who is currently serving as Chief of Mission of IOM Uganda).
The objective of the Conference, according to the organizers, is to support the development of an integrated approach to climate change-induced migration in Africa and to develop outcomes that will contribute to raising migration issues at the global level for serious consideration, such as at COP 27.
Also, the three-day Regional Inter-Ministerial Conference on Migration, Environment and Climate Change also seeks to raise awareness about the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation on human mobility.
After four consecutive failed rainy seasons, the East and Horn of Africa are currently experiencing the worst drought in four decades. Millions of people across the region have been displaced and are at risk of famine. The drought has already led to multiple deaths in Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti.
The increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events resulting from climate change directly force people to move, negatively impacting livelihoods. These movements create new humanitarian needs and place pressure on resources vital for migrants, displaced persons, and host communities, competing for already scarce resources.
Sanusi Tejan Savage, the Chief of Mission of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Uganda said the conference will also bring together relevant Ministers of Environment and the Ministers who manage Migration and their technical experts, from the 12 countries under the IGAD, EAC and the IOM East and Horn of Africa Regions namely Burundi, Djibouti, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, United Republic of Tanzania and Uganda and other African member states.
The conference will conclude with the signing of a Joint Declaration by States as a landmark for enhancing regional cooperation about climate change-induced human mobility, including migration, displacement, and planned relocation. The Declaration, amongst other objectives, will provide a standpoint from which the 12 States intend to articulate regional priorities concerning the negotiations planned at COP27, with a particular focus on the adverse impact of climate change on human mobility.
Meanwhile, with Alhaji Sanusi Tejan Savage at the helm of Affairs, IOM has been very effective in supporting the Government of Uganda in addressing migration challenges. Under his stewardship, the IOM Office in Uganda has been able to develop and implement impactful programs such as the EU-IGAD COVID-19 Response programme, a project to transform the management of solar electronic waste in Bidibidi Refugee Settlement situated in Uganda’s north-western region and also programs to strengthen national and local Government’s capacity to respond to natural disasters among others.