IGAD was created in 1996, to succeed the Intergovernmental Authority on Drought and Development (IGADD) that was founded in 1986 to deal with issues related to drought and desertification in the horn of Africa. The new and revitalized IGAD was launched during the 5th Summit of IGAD Assembly of Heads of State and Government held on 25-26 November 1996 in Djibouti. The Summit endorsed the decision to enhance regional cooperation in three priority areas of food security and environmental protection, economic cooperation, regional integration and social development, and peace and security. The regional body seeks to alleviate poverty through appropriate and effective sustainable development programmes. It is made up of eight member countries including; Uganda, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan.
The achievements of this regional bloc are summarized in the table below;
In general most of IGAD’s achievements so far have been concentrated in the area of institutional building. While social, political and economic integration has yet to be materialized; some of the institutional achievements of IGAD include the following:
- The Establishment of Conflict Early Warning and Response Mechanism (CEWARN): The CEWARN entered into force in August 2003 to serve the region as a mechanism that systematically anticipates and responds to violent conflicts in a timely and effective manner, specifically at the possible point of conflict for preventive or mitigating measures to be taken. Owing to CEWARN, the role of IGAD is generally acknowledged in the peace process of Sudan and Somalia.
- The Establishment of IGAD Climate Prediction and Application Centre (ICPAC): Like the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa, this part of the continent is prone to extreme climate such as drought and floods. These events have severe negative impact on key socio-economic sectors of all the countries in the sub-region. ICPAC relays reports every 10 days on climate changes.
- Establishment of IGAD Women’s Desk: The Desk was established in 1999 with the aim of fostering gender mainstreaming and promoting women’s participation in IGAD programs and priority areas. It is to promote the participation of women in specific strategies and program in the Agriculture, Environmental Protection, and Economic Co-operation sectors among others.
- Establishment of IGAD Sub-regional Action Programme (IGADSRAP): The purpose of the Action Program is to identify essential areas for facilitating IGADs integration endeavors. This was attempted by establishing the Sub-regional Support Facility from the support by Global Mechanism (GM).
- IGAD Information and Communication Services Centers: Adequate flow of information across member states is crucial in realizing the expected regional integration within the Eastern Africa. To this end, as an important innovation, IGAD has established information sharing and communication centers which would “bring people closer together, influence governance, and help to create more solidarity and cohesiveness among societies” The effort to creating a more integrated sub-region requires efficient dissemination of information.
- Trade Related Achievements: Beyond the non-economic collaboration sought by member countries, IGAD has passed through progress on intra-regional trade. The slow progress on economic integration could be derived by the lack of emphasis on trade at this phase of IGADs roadmap. The directive related to economic integration designed by the IGADs Assembly in June 2008 was expected to stimulate trade among member states despite the existing structural constraints (supply constraints, infrastructural problems and possible lack of complementarity).
- Establishment of Marketing Information System: As a mechanism for integrating the markets of the region and laying the ground for greater integration, IGAD has established Marketing Information Systems for tradables specifically crops and livestock by developing a user friendly website and networking points in member States.
- The other promising achievement by IGAD is its commitment to identify specific areas of capacity building needs. The regional bloc has done workshops; capacity building training and information flows, after it has identified areas of intervention and generated the required amount of funds from supporting organizations. Realizing that the region suffers a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, IGAD has taken the leadership to formulate national strategies and HIV/AIDS control programs.
- The IGAD member countries tend to concentrate on political and conflict related matters, which of course are basic for economic growth and stability, but tend to give reduced attention to the social, cultural and most importantly economic dimensions of integration. After all, the sub-region has yet to adopt the Preferential Trade Area although it has existed for the last 20 years. Quite a lot preparatory work such as institutionalization of basic requirements has been done so far but commitment on assuring real integration in the Eastern part of Africa is by no means robust.
Source: HESPI policy paper
IGAD played an integral role in updating South Sudan Regional Refugee Response Plan (RRRP) 2020-2021. The 2021 Regional Refugee Response Plan for the South Sudan situation seeks to provide a regionally coherent inter-agency response supported by host governments in the five countries of asylum and these include: Ethiopia; Uganda; Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC); Kenya and Sudan. Additionally, IGAD presided over signing of the Declaration of Recommitment to the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement of 21st December 2017, Rome Declaration of 12th January 2020 and Rome Resolution of 13th February 2020, on 8th March 2021 in Naivasha, Kenya. This was all intended at achieving all-inclusive and comprehensive peace process in South Sudan.