Session FT 5.11
Managing drought risks: Role of improved preparedness and management
- World Meteorological Organization
- National Drought Mitigation Center, University of Nebraska
- United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
- AGRHYMET, Niamey, Niger
Drought is by far the most damaging but least understood of all natural disasters. It is a normal part of the climate in virtually all regions of the world, resulting in significant economic, social, and environmental consequences. Worldwide, drought has been responsible for thousands of deaths and has cost hundreds of billions of dollars in damage. The U.S. drought in 1988 alone cost an estimated $40 billion. Africa suffered its worst dry-spell of the century in 1991-1992 when drought covered a region of 6.7 million square km and affected 24 million. Because of its slow-onset characteristics and lack of structural impacts, the concept of drought management is only slowly emerging and drought risk management as an important component in disaster reduction programs is likewise in an early stage of development. Drought is often considered to be a rare and random event, which to some extent explains the lack of national drought policies and management plans. Most countries have pursued drought management through a reactive, crisis management approach rather than a proactive, risk management approach that emphasizes drought preparedness and mitigation. Sustainable development requires improved management across the full range of climate, especially during climate extremes, which bring the greatest risk of environmental degradation and economic and social losses. Shifting the paradigm to drought risk management will require improvements in seasonal forecast skill, more comprehensive and integrated climate assessments, the development of better decision support tools for decision makers, improved delivery systems to provide information to decision makers in a more timely fashion, better drought impact assessment methodologies, and the development of vulnerability profiles to better understand who and what is at risk and why. With these tools in hand, greater progress can be made to lessen societal vulnerability to drought.
- Close involvement of local communities in the development and implementation of programs is an essential feature in preparedness and management of droughts
- There needs to be increased research and education and information sharing (between experts, research groups, and communities) on the application of preparedness and management strategies to droughts to lessen the impacts of droughts in different sectors such as agriculture, water resource management etc., Approaches should be inclusive, make use of ‘appropriate language’ in the dialogue of knowledge and give recognition to local, traditional knowledge.
- There should be increased involvement and personal responsibility at the community and sector level, based on knowledge of the drought hazard, recognition of its likely occurrence, and knowledge of appropriate strategies for lessening the risk. In this context it is essential that strong institutions are established within local communities.
- Increased incidence of drought is of such worldwide concern, that new technology (e.g., remote sensing, GIS), research, education and mitigation activities along with application of traditional techniques should be developed and applied.
- Coping with drought can only be successful if local communities take control of the management of their land and water resources in a sustainable manner. This requires firstly a community-based knowledge of resource availability and response to natural and anthropogenic influences, secondly, a community-based people partnership with strong organisation and communication within and across communities, and, thirdly, a gender balance with women and men playing equally important roles.
- Current methods of drought management are largely crisis driven. There is an urgent need for a more risk-based management approach to drought planning at the national and regional levels. An effective risk management approach would include a timely and user-oriented early warning system with rapid dissemination of information to users.
- Effective management of and preparedness for droughts requires free and unlimited access to relevant information that will allow monitoring, assessment, and prediction.
- The growing frequency of droughts requires effective use of the media to better inform and educate the general public and policymakers about the potential impacts of droughts and the need to adopt better preparedness and management strategies.
- With the development of water resources in arid and semi-arid regions, the irrigated lands are more exposed to drought, and infact they face the growing frequency of droughts. Therefore, governments should introduce structural and non-structural policies, in parallel to their development plans, to be able to cope with the increasing risks of drought, so induced by man.
- Countries should develop policies aimed at effective drought management. Such policies should emphasis preparedness and incentives over insurance, insurance over relief, and relief over regulation.
- The bottom-up approach followed in LA 799/800 can complement the top-down approach and lead to a much more powerful mode of development. Local communities would become key players in the development process.
Orientations for action
Managing drought risks requires a holistic approach and should involve all the important actors starting with the local communities and moving upwards to all ministries and agencies involved with drought management. The role of women in drought risk management at the village level needs greater attention. Informing the local communities about effective drought risk management and involving them at all stages in the mitigation of drought impacts is crucial.
Local Actions presented
Development of scientific research projects on the climatic and meteorologic phenomenon affecting the North-East of Mexico
Dr Sergio Reyes, CICESE, Mexico
Sustainable Use of Water Resources - Role of Environmental Education and Gender Roles
Mr Jan van Wonderen, Mott MacDonald, United Kingdom and Dr Adelia Branco, Gender and Water Alliance, Brazil
The local action relates to the development of a land and water focussed environmental education programme and related gender issues.
Improved rural community understanding of their water and land resources is fundamental to improved livelihoods and long-term community stability (reduction in out-migration). With practical environmental knowledge the communities will appreciate the need for local prioritisation and co-operation in water use management and can manage effectively their resources to reduce waste, avoid overuse and provide continuity of drinking water during droughts. Such knowledge will contribute to poverty alleviation as well as reduce environmental degradation. To contribute to achieving this goal, an environmental education framework was introduced, which is community based, sensitive to local conditions, and long-term.
A participative environmental education programme, targeted at younger as well as older community members and with a major focus on water and land, was trialled at the project scale, spanning rural and indigenous communities in Pesqueira and Jatauba municipalities in Pernambuco. One of the main characteristics of this programme is it involves local farmers, who work with the teachers in the dissemination of knowledge to the students. Such participation not only empowers the farmers themselves, but acknowledges the importance of local knowledge. The programme has strong practical and participative components. Expected outcomes include:
· Established low cost monitoring facilities managed and maintained by the communities.
· Appreciation of the need for and benefits of environmental education and monitoring.
· Active involvement in monitoring activities, data analysis and dissemination.
· A successful example of an approach to participatory environmental education that can be replicated and adopted on a wider scale.
Many of the elements imparted to students are of both applied scientific and social science nature, and hence of relevance to the broader curriculum of schools.
Communities benefit from the project, particularly since the education is focussed on both young and adult community members. Enhanced knowledge strengthens the appreciation of resource vulnerability and the need for resource management that assures sustainability.
This programme presents a new educational model not found in any school settings in rural Brazil. It brings together teachers, who are mainly women, and have had formal training and farmers, who are mainly men, and most of whom have not been exposed to formal education. Such integration is very important and gives credibility to the programme, the main reason being that the teachers belong to a group of women who have high status at the community level and men farmers who are also well respected since agriculture is mostly identified as a male activity.
An important impact in social terms is that this programme highlights the relevance of aspects related to rural livelihood. Historically, the educational model followed by both rural and urban schools has been heavily modelled on urban life. This has had a very negative impact on rural students, particularly those who inhabit the drought prone of Northeast Brazil, as it contributed to out migration.