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Reducing impacts and building resilience

Drought Header Image. A mom holding her son.

Over 15 per cent of natural disaster damages and losses are caused by drought. Droughts account for 85.8% of livestock losses and drought is the most lethal natural hazard to livestock (FAO, 2015). The distribution of drought-related losses show high relative losses in Sub-Saharan Africa but Central and South America, southern Europe, the Middle East and southern Australia are also at high risk (Natural Disaster Hotspots: A Global Risk Analysis, 2005).

With the anticipated pressures on water resources and with more intense and severe droughts predicted, a paradigm shift is needed. Poorly coordinated “crisis management” in the face of drought will no longer suffice (Managing drought risk in a changing climate: The role of national drought policy, weather and climate extremes, 2014). A well-planned approach that focuses on reducing the impacts of drought is needed now.

The adoption of national drought policies that are focused on risk reduction and which are complemented by drought mitigation plans at various levels of government will have significant ripple effects across key sectors.

The adoption of these policies supports the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal target 6 – “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all” – by promoting integrated water resources management. The vulnerability to future drought episodes can be significantly reduced and the coping capacity of communities, even entire nations, can be improved.

A proactive approach for enhancing drought resilience is composed of three important pillars:

  1. Drought monitoring and early warning systems
  2. Vulnerability and risk assessment
  3. Drought risk mitigation measures