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International Symposium on Integrated

Drought Information Systems

Casablanca, Morocco
9-11 November 2011


Brochure | Background |Specific Objectives | Expected Outcomes

Programme | Particpants | Presentations

Workshop Overview

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the National Meteorological Service of Morocco (Maroc-Meteo), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) are organizing this workshop and backgroundspecific objectives and expected outcomes are listed below.


Drought is an insidious natural hazard that can last for a season, a year or even decades and cover areas from the size of communities up to thousands of km2. Recent drought events have caused economic losses amounting to billions of dollars and concern has grown world-wide that droughts and attendant water scarcity may be increasing in frequency and severity due to climate variability, climate change, and socio-economic demands and practices. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report (IPCC, 2007) states that the world indeed has been more drought-prone during the past 25 years, and that climate projections for the 21st century indicate increased frequency of severe droughts in many parts of the world. Whether due to natural climate variability or climate change, there is an urgent need to improve drought monitoring and early warning systems, as well as broader social responses to manage the risks and mitigate the effects of drought.

Because of its long-term socio-economic and environmental impacts, drought is by far the most damaging of all natural hazards. The effects of drought are due to the physical nature of the hazard, the vulnerability of social, economic and ecological systems, and of society┬┤s ability to manage the associated risks. Drought risk management is a critical component of disaster reduction programs and public water resources policy. Yet, rather than emphasizing drought preparedness and mitigation, most countries, regions and communities, currently assess and manage drought risk through reactive, crisis-driven approaches. Policy development related to national and regional management of drought is lacking in most countries. Likewise, drought early warning information systems, consisting of monitoring, prediction, risk assessment and communication, are inadequate in most regions. In many cases there is insufficient capacity in many drought-prone countries to use drought prediction results and decision support tools effectively in management practice.

In some countries and regions, such as in Australia and the Mediterranean region, severe droughts have triggered water sector reforms in order to build greater water security, manage water demand, and safeguard livelihoods. It is essential to develop an integrated drought information system involving stakeholders from the communities and sectors affected by drought to better manage drought risks. Such a system would offer a sound basis for longer-term adaptation to climate change.

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Specific Workshop Objectives

  • To provide a better scientific understanding and inputs such as indicators and thresholds for drought management in different regions of the world;

  • To discuss and develop informed decisions drought risk assessment and management, and implementing early warning systems across climate timescales;

  • To discuss and suggest the appropriate ways to promote policy and planning for drought preparedness and mitigation across sectors; and

  • To develop appropriate mechanisms for drought risk reduction and response.

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Expected Workshop Outcomes

Senior experts in the field of drought preparedness, drought monitoring and integrated drought risk management will be invited to prepare state-of-the-art discussion papers to address the above objectives. The programme for the meeting will be designed to engage all the participants in discussions and develop appropriate recommendations for all organizations involved in drought preparedness and management.

The workshop should result in enhanced capacity to: understand, anticipate and respond to droughts and their impacts in different sectors. Emphases will be placed on adaptation; drought mitigation and the different aspects of integrated drought management.

Proceedings of the Meeting will be published by WMO, NOAA and UNCCD and will be widely distributed to promote the integrated drought risl management approach in different countries worldwide.

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