Integrated Drought Management Initiatives

Frederik Pischke and Robert Stefanski CONTENTS


This chapter provides an overview of the development of national drought management policies. It explores collaborative efforts that were started at the High-level Meeting on National Drought Policy (HMNDP) (see Chapter 2) and are implemented through the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and Global Water Partnership's (GWP) integrated drought management programme (IDMP) and related initiatives, particularly the UN-Water Initiative on Capacity Development to Support National Drought Management Policies. Early outputs—for example, the National Drought Management Policy Guidelines—A Template for Action (see Chapter 4) and the Handbook on Drought Indices and Indicators (see Chapter 9)—provide an indication of how expert-reviewed guidance is brought together and used by drought practitioners for developing national drought management policies and applying drought indices/indicators. Regional examples from central and eastern Europe and the Horn of Africa highlight how these guidelines and collaborative efforts and outputs are applied. The role of IDMP is to provide a framework and commensurate technical support to countries, but the actual development and implementation of national drought plans and policies still needs to be done by governmental ministries and national stakeholders. This chapter emphasizes how information from different sources is used to support countries to shift from only reacting to droughts when they occur to adopting proactive national drought policies that focus on improved collaboration and the mitigation of drought impacts through appropriate risk reduction measures.

Droughts have generally been addressed in a reactive manner, only responding after drought impacts have occurred. This reactive or crisis management approach is untimely, poorly coordinated, and disintegrated, and it provides negative incentives for adapting to a changing climate.

Despite recognition of the need to move away from crisis management to risk management, no concerted efforts have been made to initiate a dialogue on the formulation and adoption of national drought policies. In addition, since there are different impacts of drought across economic sectors and society as well as different providers of information and solutions, there must be a collaborative effort to effectively manage drought. For example, at the country level, the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHS) provide drought monitoring and early warning of the weather and climate variables, the water resource management agency provides information on reservoir levels, the Ministry of Agriculture provides information on crop yields and estimates production, the Ministry of the Environment provides data on environmental flows, and the Ministries of Planning and Finance are often key actors in the overall development planning. All of these institutions must collaborate to develop a coherent drought management policy for the country.

With the aim of addressing these issues, the HMNDP was organized by WMO, the Secretariat of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), in collaboration with a number of UN agencies and international and regional organizations, in Geneva from March 11 to 15, 2013, as detailed in Chapter 2.

In its final declaration (WMO 2013), the HMNDP encouraged all governments to develop and implement national drought management policies guided by the following principles:

  • • Develop proactive drought impact mitigation, preventive and planning measures, risk management, fostering of science, appropriate technology and innovation, public outreach, and resource management as key elements of effective national drought policy.
  • • Promote greater collaboration to enhance the quality of local/ national/regional/global observation networks and delivery systems.
  • • Improve public awareness of drought risk and preparedness for drought.
  • • Consider, where possible within the legal framework of each country, economic instruments and financial strategies, including risk reduction, risk sharing, and risk transfer tools in drought management plans.
  • • Establish emergency relief plans based on sound management of natural resources and self-help at appropriate governance levels.
  • • Link drought management plans to local/national development policies.

In addition, the policy document of the HMNDP (UNCCD et al. 2013) stated the essential elements of a national drought policy, namely:

  • • Promoting standard approaches to vulnerability and impact assessment
  • • Implementing effective drought monitoring, early warning, and information systems
  • • Enhancing preparedness and mitigation actions
  • • Implementing emergency response and relief measures that reinforce national drought management policy goals.

One of the successes of HMNDP is that it has helped focus the attention of international organizations and national governments on proactive policies.

The strong call for a framework in the form of a policy that combines different approaches that have been considered key in moving from a crisis management approach to a risk management approach led to the launch of the IDMP by WMO and GWP at the HMNDP in March 2013. With the objective of supporting stakeholders at all levels by providing policy and management guidance, and by sharing scientific information, knowledge, and best practices for an integrated approach to drought management, the IDMP aims:

  • • To shift the focus from reactive (crisis management) to proactive measures through drought mitigation, vulnerability reduction, and preparedness
  • • To integrate the vertical planning and decision-making processes at regional, national, and community levels into a multistakeholder approach including key sectors, especially agriculture and energy
  • • To promote the evolution of the drought knowledge base and to establish a mechanism for sharing knowledge and providing services to stakeholders across sectors at all levels
  • • To build capacity of various stakeholders at different levels

Based on the High-level Meeting on National Drought Policies (UNCCD et al. 2013), the IDMP and its partners have adopted three pillars of drought


The three pillars of integrated drought management.

management (Figure 3.1), which have been advanced by Wilhite (WMO and GWP 2014): (1) drought monitoring and early warning systems; (2) vulnerability and impact assessment; and (3) drought preparedness, mitigation, and response.

The pillars have been reflected in many different initiatives, including the UN-Water Initiative on Capacity Development to Support National Drought Management Policies and the Windhoek Declaration of the African Drought Conference (UNCCD 2016), because they represent a common way of structuring the work toward an integrated approach to drought management.

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