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Last updated: 14 March 2013

 

Towards more drought-resilient societies

Geneva/Rome/Bonn, March 2013 - Michel Jarraud, Secretary-General, World Meteorological Organization; José Graziano da Silva, Director General, Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN; and Luc Gnacadja, Executive Secretary, UN Convention to Combat Desertification

Droughts have scarred human history since ancient times. While lacking the drama of earthquakes or hurricanes, droughts cause more deaths and displace more people than any other kind of natural disaster. During the past several years alone, they have struck such diverse places as Australia, Brazil, Djibouti, southeastern Europe, Mexico, Russia, Somalia, Spain and the United States.

Climate variability and change threaten to bring even higher temperatures, greater evaporation and altered rainfall patterns in the years to come. While rainfall and water supplies vary everywhere in the world, the countries most vulnerable to serious drought are in the world’s drylands, which since 1950 have increased by almost 2 per cent per decade. >> Full text

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Responding to Drought – WMO/GWP Integrated Drought Management Program Launched
Posted 13 March 2013

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and Global Water Partnership (GWP) have launched a joint Integrated Drought Management Programme (IDMP) on March 13, 2013, to improve monitoring and prevention of one of the world’s greatest natural hazards.

The programme was launched at the High-level Meeting on National Drought Policy (HMNDP) in Geneva, Switzerland, where decision-makers and scientists from around the world are discussing proactive, forward-looking national drought policies to replace the current piecemeal, reactive approach.

“Whether because of climate variability or climate change, droughts have a severe impact on water availability and quality, agricultural and energy production, and ecosystem health,” says GWP Executive Secretary Dr Ania Grobicki. “There is an urgent need to develop better drought monitoring and risk management systems, and for countries to have frameworks in place to manage drought risks through an integrated approach. This programme aims to support countries in this endeavor, within their regional contexts.” >> Full text

Drought experts call for integrated approach to poverty and drought
Posted 12 March 2013

Addressing the High-level Meeting on National Drought Policy, Mr Mahmoud Solh, Director General of the International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA), stated that while drought cannot be prevented, its impacts can be alleviated through an integrated policy approach. His remarks were echoed by a panel of experts from around the world.

While drought results from natural causes (and, increasingly, climate change), the desertification that often follows is caused by a mix of natural and human causes. The knowledge exists to tackle the human contributions of poverty and inadequate policies and technologies. If we address poverty and drought through integrated policies at the national, regional and global levels we can break the vicious cycle of drought followed by human suffering.

Mr Sohl detailed some of the techniques and technologies that countries are integrating into their national approach to reducing drought impacts. In the drylands, agricultural productivity needs to be measured per unit of water, rather than per unit of land as in more humid regions, so reducing evaporation is a priority. Increasing the soil’s ability to retain water can be achieved through mixed cropping, watershed management plans, and zero tillage techniques. The use of drought-resistant ruminants, seasonal climate prediction, and a community approach to managing common water and rangeland resources can also contribute. A further example is the ICARDA genebank, which safeguards the seeds of the wild relatives of wheat and other major crops so that they can be cross-bred to produce drought-resistant qualities.

Drought conference launches UN project to develop national capacity
Posted 12 March 2013

Michel Jarraud

The World Meteorological Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, in cooperation with the UN-Water Decade Programme on Capacity Development, have launched a Joint Capacity Development Project on National Drought Management Policies. The kick-off workshop was held on the sidelines of the High-level Meeting on National Drought Policies taking place this week in Geneva.

Mr Michel Jarraud, the Chair of UN-Water and Secretary-General of the WMO, observed that the frequency and impact of drought has been increasing. Drought impacts could be significantly reduced if more countries had the capacity to implement risk-based strategies. A critical next step, then, in addressing drought will be to assist drought-prone countries to establish national drought policies.

Mr Reza Ardakanian, Director of the project, noted that UN-Water brings together dozens of UN and non-UN organizations that can contribute to this effort. The project seeks to raise awareness, engage stakeholders, and increase the capacity of national institutions and ministries to develop risk-based management policies. The timing of the project launch is particularly appropriate as the UN General Assembly has declared 2013 the International Year of Water Cooperation. The International Decade “Water for Life” (2005 – 2015) also promotes action on drought.

For more information, please visit the project site hosted by UN-Water at http://goo.gl/zFbmF.

UN Kicks Off Global Campaign for Drought Mitigation
Posted 12 March 2013

UNCCD and World Meteorological Organization (WMO) have kicked-off the 2013 global campaign to drought preparedness and risk management on 13 March during the High-level Meeting on National Drought Policy, which takes place on 11-15 March 2013 in Geneva.

“Droughts have devastating effects on people, on livelihoods, the economy. However, current response to drought is too little and too late. We are starting a global campaign on raising awareness by calling to set up policies, mechanisms and systems that will pre-empt future devastating impacts of drought. Our call is “Do not let our future dry up”, said UNCCD Executive Secretary Luc Gnacadja.

“By 17 June, when we celebrate the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, we want every stakeholder and community in the world say “never again” to drought disasters. We want every individual and every private company with the power to act, join in to building a drought resilient society”. >> Full text

Major Drought Policy Conference Opens
Posted 11 March 2013

A High-level Meeting on National Drought Policy, organized by three United Nations institutions, aims to promote practical and proactive policies at the national level to make drought-prone countries more resilient.

The scientific segment of the week-long conference, organized by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), opened 11 March. A ministerial session will be held 13-14 March.

Droughts cause more death and displacement than cyclones, floods and earthquakes combined, making them the world’s most destructive natural hazard. They are expected to increase in frequency, area and intensity due to climate change. There is therefore an urgent need for coordinated drought and proactive policies. >> Full text

 

United Nations launches concerted push for effective drought policies
Posted 8 March 2013

Need to focus on building resilience and reducing risks

Geneva 8 March 2013 – Droughts cause the deaths and displacement of more people than
cyclones, floods and earthquakes combined, making them the world’s most destructive
natural hazard. Yet while droughts are expected to increase in frequency, area and intensity due to climate change, effective drought management policies are missing in most parts of the world. Three United Nations institutions have now joined forces to promote the development and adoption of practical and proactive policies at the national level to make drought-prone countries more resilient.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the
United Nations (FAO) and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and other
partners will hold a High-Level Meeting on National Drought Policy on 11-15 March 2013 in Geneva to focus on drought preparedness and management policies. >> More

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