The Drought Initiative

The Drought Initiative


Planning early is key to achieving drought resilience


Drought is considered to be one of the most far-reaching natural disasters, bringing short and long-term economic and social losses to millions of people worldwide.  Many countries across the globe may soon face the impacts of intense drought, yet they still lack a comprehensive plan for what to do when the first signs of drought appear. Drought and water scarcity – interconnected phenomena that often aggravate each other’s effects – can trigger major setbacks for the most disadvantaged populations: from famine to migration and displacement. A single year of drought can set back years of social development, in particular for vulnerable members of society. Water scarcity alone could cost some regions up to six percent of their GDP by 2050, in turn triggering mass migration and conflict over diminishing resources. In 2017, drought led to the worst humanitarian crisis since the Second World War, when 20 million people across Africa and the Middle East came to the brink of starvation (UN-OCHA). 

According to the 2018 United Nations/World Bank High Level Panel on Water, forty per cent of the world’s population is affected by water scarcity, with as many as 700 million people at risk of being displaced as a result of drought by 2030.  A lack of water – often the outcome of drought  – is already fueling migration due to its impacts on people’s livelihoods. The Panel called for evidence-based policies and innovative approaches at the global, national and local level to make water management more disaster-resilient. 

The UNCCD is making a contribution to addressing these challenges through a recently launched initiative that will work to enhance the resilience of communities and ecosystems to drought through the design of national action plans. The aim is to promote a paradigm shift in approach to the way drought is managed – from a reactive and crisis-based towards a proactive and risk-based one. The convention supports countries in developing a comprehensive national plan of action ready to be set in motion to deal with drought well before it strikes. 

The UNCCD secretariat, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Global Water Partnership (GWP), the Union for Mediterranean (UfM), the UNEP-DHI Centre for Water and Environment, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) are all part of the framework for collaboration to support the UNCCD initiative on drought management.

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This brochure highlights the impact of current droughts as well as presenting projections for the future. It strongly suggests that overcoming the prevailing paradigm of ‘reactive’ and ‘crisis-based’ approaches to drought and moving towards ‘proactive’ and ‘risk-based’ approaches will be…
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UNCCD Publications
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