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Proactive Approaches to Drought Preparedness: the White Paper Report at UNCCD COP14

Proactive drought management is essential to protect both people and the environment from the impacts of this slow-onset disaster. This is one of the main messages of a report presented today by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization at the 14th Conference of the Parties (COP 14) of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification Conference (UNCCD), in New Delhi. 

The White paper report on Drought preparednessexplores various policy approaches that can be used to support drought-stricken populations and drought-affected activities, reduce vulnerability, and strengthen resilience. It was developed by FAO in collaboration with UNCCD, WMO, Global Water Partnership and the Integrated Drought Management Programme as contribution to the Global Framework on Water Scarcity in Agriculture (WASAG.) 

The Introductory part clearly explains what a drought is and emphasises that droughts contribute to rise and fall of civilizations. Droughts bring huge challenges and in future the climate change may bring more frequent and severe droughts. Despite their extreme vulnerability and water scarcity, drylands are home to 50 percent of the worlds livestock and 44 percent of the all cultivated land (UNCCS). A 10 per cent decrease in precipitation in a humid area like the Amazon River, may not be perceived as a drought while a small climate variability in a semi-arid area might be. The Agriculture sector endured more than 80 per cent of the damage caused by drought. 

It also explains the droughts in Africa, Latin America, North America, Australia and Europe. Main approaches to drought management are dealt in a separate chapter. A separate session on Proactive drought management and a Proactive National Drought Policy was emphasised and written about. 

 “Climate shocks such as floods and drought, combined with poverty and vulnerability, can leave millions trapped in poverty and hunger,” said Eduardo Mansur, Director of FAO's Land and Water Division. 

FAO, World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the Secretariat of the UNCCD established a proactive drought policy based on three pillars:  

  • monitoring, forecasting and early warning;

  • vulnerability and impact assessment;

  • preparedness, mitigation and response.

“Planning for drought must be a sustained responsibility of governments and other stakeholders, and this should include strategies to reduce future vulnerability as well as mechanisms for climate-smart, effective responses," said Mansur.  

The paper throws light on how practices that preserve ecosystems can also benefit drought preparedness. Sustainable land, soil and water management help increase resilience to droughts. Such practices also have other benefits such as capturing carbon, increasing water supply and protecting biodiversity.It emphasized on many countries that are already adopting good practices, such as establishing integrated production systems that combine forestry and agriculture, or agroforestry-livestock systems that contribute to land use sustainability and increase drought resilience. 



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Krishi Jagran