Towards a compendium on national drought policy
Proceedings of an expert meeting: July 14-15 2011, Washington DC, USA
Droughts produce a large number of socio-economic impacts which may arise from the interaction between natural conditions and human factors. There is growing evidence that the frequency and extent of drought has increased as a result of global warming. Some information on the current droughts in 2011 around the world in the Horn of Africa, China, Texas in the US, and England and Wales is presented. The context of current droughts calls for pro-active future actions to cope with droughts. National governments must adopt policies that engender cooperation and coordination at all levels of governments in order to increase their capacity to cope with extended periods of water shortages due to drought. Despite the repeated occurrences of droughts throughout human history and the large impacts on different socio-economic sectors, no concerted efforts have ever been made to initiate a dialogue on the formulation and adoption of national drought policies. The time is ripe for nations to move forward with the development of a pro-active, risk-based national drought policy. Without a coordinated, national drought policy that includes effective monitoring and early warning systems to deliver timely information to decision makers, effective impact assessment procedures, pro-active risk management measures, preparedness plans aimed at increasing the coping capacity, and effective emergency response programs directed at reducing the impacts of drought, nations will continue to respond to drought in a reactive, crisis management mode. In order to address the issue of national drought policy, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Congress at its Sixteenth Session held in Geneva from 16 May to 3 June 2011 recommended the organization of a “High Level Meeting on National Drought Policy (HMNDP). ”Accordingly, WMO and the Secretariat of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), in collaboration with a number of UN Agencies, International and Regional Organizations and key national agencies, plan to organize the HMNDP in Geneva in March 2013. Plans for the development of Compendium of Desirable Elements in a National Drought Policy are described.