Djibouti is highly vulnerable to a variety of natural hazards, including multi-annual droughts, frequent flash floods that often follow extended periods of drought, earthquakes of up to magnitude 6 with a potential for as much as 7, and volcanic activity. Approximately 33 percent of the Djiboutian population live in areas of high hazard risk.
The country is classified as severely water poor and is one of the most water-scarce countries in the world. An extended drought that devastated Djibouti from 2008 to 2011 caused the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) to fall four percent per year according to a GFDRR–supported post-disaster needs assessment (PDNA). The drought affected 120,000 people, nearly 15 percent of the population. Farmers and herders were hardest hit. The agricultural sector lost 50 percent of its GDP, resulting in increased food insecurity.
Djibouti’s vulnerability to natural hazards is exacerbated by limited water management, excessive exploitation of its scarce groundwater resources, high levels of poverty, rapid demographic growth (particularly in urban areas which are home to over 77 percent of the population), and ineffective land use planning and building regulation. Furthermore, climate change is predicted to increase the frequency and intensity of flooding and droughts.
In the past decade, Djibouti has taken important steps to scale up its disaster risk management (DRM) program. In 2006, the Government of Djibouti endorsed a national policy for DRM, established SEGRC – the main national DRM coordination agency, and developed a National Adaptation Program of Action (NAPA). More recently, DRM was established as an integral part of the national Initiative for Social Development (2011-2015). Despite progress, these policies, plans and institutional frameworks are still in the process of being operationalized. With the support of partners like GFDRR, the country has improved its ability to monitor and communicate hazard risks. It has since completed its first national risk assessment and established a hydromet system covering Djibouti’s five climatic zones.
To further advance the DRM agenda, priorities include:
- Strengthening preparedness and response capacities;
- Mainstreaming DRM in land use planning;
- Improving public understanding of hazard risk; and,
- Developing a nation resilience and green growth strategy.
GFDRR has helped enable DRM efforts in Djibouti since 2008. Key areas of focus have included developing tools to evaluate and communicate risk, helping the Government of Djibouti understand damage and loss caused by drought, and building institutional DRM capacity.
In 2008, GFDRR supported the development of the first hazard and risk map for the country’s capital, Djibouti City. In extensive collaboration with five governmental and academic institutions, a conceptual framework was developed for a Comprehensive Approach to Risk Assessment in Djibouti (CARAD). This integrated risk analysis information system was designed to enable the development of effective and versatile tools for the evaluation and communication of risk.
In order to build upon and operationalize this initial work, the GFDRR-funded country program supported the development and launch of CARAD between 2009 and 2012. Activities included the development of updated disaster preparedness plans; the acquisition and installation of five new weather stations to strengthen data gathering; the development of seismic and flood risk vulnerability assessments; and the operationalization of flood and drought early warning systems.
In the final phase of the country program, GFDRR worked to strengthen the operationalization of CARAD. Activities included providing support to the Ministry of Housing, Urban Development and the Environment to develop a housing strategy, including recommendations for building codes and regulations to reduce seismic and flood risk.
GFDRR and its partners also supported a drought PDNA from 2008 to 2011, which was instrumental in deepening cross-sectoral collaboration in risk management. The PDNA mobilized over $40 million in funding for DRM, including $13.2 million in World Bank financing for drought risk reduction in the water, social, and energy sectors.
Djibouti’s DRM capacity has also benefited from regional engagements. GFDRR supported the development of a web platform for the Horn of Africa that gathers and delivers open-access data critical for DRM and climate change decision-making. Furthermore, GFDRR promoted a South-South exchange between Djibouti, Kenya, and Mozambique to facilitate the sharing of best practices in drought resilience agriculture and community level flood management.
GFDRR anticipates continued demand for support from the Government of Djibouti in the following areas:
- Building capacity for the operationalization of CARAD;
- Developing green growth and resilience strategies;
- Improving the effectiveness of SEGRC as a response and coordination agency; and,
- Institutionalizing PDNA training across sectors to build a culture of collaboration and preparedness.