Building Drought Resilience in a Changing Climate
WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud chaired a multi-agency coordinated Feature Event on “Drought Resilience in a Changing Climate, “ (22 May) to promote the benefits of Integrated drought risk management.
“Drought affects more people than any other disaster,” said Mr Jarraud. “We have the knowledge and we have the experience to reduce the impacts of drought.” A High-Level Meeting on National Drought Policy, co-sponsored by WMO in March 2013, laid the foundations to proactive, integrated risk-management based drought policies to replace the current reactive, crisis-driven approach.
Saidou Sidibe, Minister and Director of the Cabinet of the Prime Minister of Niger – which was badly affected by drought in 2011-2012 - said the scale of the drought problem demanded international and regional cooperation. “We can not do it alone,” he said.
In the Sahel, drought reduced cereal production by 26 percent in 2012 compared to 2011. Over 10 million people remain food insecure in the region and 1.4 million children are at risk of acute malnutrition. Worldwide, since 1900 more than 11 million people have died as a result of droughts and 2 billion affected.
Juan Manuel Caballero, head of the National Meteorological System of Mexico, recalled that in 2011 86% of Mexico was affected by drought. As a result, the Mexican government has launched a national programme against drought and working to improve early warning systems and preventive measures. “We are teaching a new culture of water awareness because it is a very scarce resource,” he said.
Wadid Erian of the Arab Center for the Studies of Arid Zones and Dry Lands said global cooperation was vital given that there are more than 260 transboundary river basins, Climate change would affect the frequency and severity of drought, he said. “The globe we know now is going to look different because drought is spreading like a cancer,” he said.
Havier Pava, Director-General, Fondo de prevencion y atencion de Emergencias, Bogota, Colombia, said his city was rich in water resources. “but we have gone from a year of excess to a year of scarcity. We have gone from floods to fires and disasters relating to energy,” he said.
Mathewos Hunde, a DRR advisor to IGAD, said his country – Ethiopia – had taken a number of steps to address the underlying causes of disaster risks and be able to respond. He said a safety net programme was being implemented to reach 7 million chronically food insecure people. This focused on building resilience at community level, as well as capacity building, early warning and protection.
Gedi Hussein, a community worker from Wajir County, Kenya, said climate change compromised the lives of security.