Date of this Version
Published in S.L. Steinberg and W.A. Sprigg (eds.), Extreme Weather, Health, and Communities, Extreme Weather and Society, (2016), pp. 219-244. DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-30626-1_10
Droughts have profoundly affected societies around the world from the earliest beginnings. A recent estimate from the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) claims that more than 1 billion people have been affected by drought during the twenty-year period between 1994 and 2013. Because of the characteristics of drought, drought impacts are often difficult to identify and quantify, and this is especially true with public health-oriented drought consequences, including those resulting from low water quantities, poor water quality, mental health and stress, dust and windblown agents, and wildlife intrusion. However, when officials emphasize adopting a proactive risk management approach to address drought, opportunities increase for reducing future public health risks. This chapter provides an overview of drought and describes drought risk management. The chapter ends with several case studies illustrating how public engagement can greatly assist in preparing a region for future droughts. Preparedness for drought is important as the competition for valuable and finite water resources increases, and as climate change potentially increases drought frequency and severity.