Drought Impact and Vulnerability Assessment: A Rapid Review of Practices and Policy Recommendations

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UNCCD Publications

National policies should take a proactive approach to direct and coordinate drought vulnerability assessments with vulnerable groups. This rapid review explores the application of available approaches and methods for assessing drought impacts and vulnerability. It is based on a series of interviews with expert practitioners from different drought-affected regions of the world. This was complemented by a brief review of the relevant published literature and a summary appraisal of the strengths and weaknesses of the range of assessment approaches available. At the present time, most of the available assessments still fall short in their consideration of the longer-term impacts and vulnerability associated with drought.

However, they can be improved by practical application and continuous review including the most vulnerable groups. International action can support national efforts to apply the best available approaches, build capacities and exchange lessons. This is necessary to reduce the wider destabilising effects of un-managed drought risks and persistent vulnerability on the regional and global economies and security. Vulnerability baselines, achievable targets and monitoring systems can facilitate global assessment and reductions in drought risk.
The review identified three approaches that can be combined for grounded “bottom-up” vulnerability assessments that:

1. Focus on people and their livelihoods, including the most vulnerable and marginalised groups and individuals;
2. Capture changes in the production of ecosystem-services including from agriculture and across other sectors; and
3. Account for effects on the water balance at basin and sub-basin levels that further exacerbate vulnerability to drought.