Date of this Version
Published in the proceedings Water Resources and Environmental Hazards: Emphasis on Hydrologic and Cultural Insight in the Pacific Rim (June 1995), pp. 29–36; Technical Publication Series (American Water Resources Association), no. TPS95-2.
Given worldwide experience with drought during the past several decades and the magnitude of associated impacts, it is apparent that vulnerability to extended periods of water shortage is escalating. Developing a national or provincial drought policy and preparedness plan is a complicated but essential first step toward reducing societal vulnerability. Until recently, nations had devoted little effort to drought preparedness, preferring instead the reactive or crisis management approach. Presently, an increasing number of nations are pursuing a more proactive approach that emphasizes the principles of risk management and sustainable development. Because of the multitude of impacts associated with drought and the numerous governmental agencies that have responsibility for some aspect of monitoring, assessment, mitigation, and planning, developing a policy and plan must be an integrated process within and between levels of government. This paper will outline a generic process that can be adopted by governments that desire to develop a more comprehensive and longterm approach to drought management and planning. Countries and states or provincial authorities that have adopted this approach will be presented as case studies. This process is timely, given the declaration of the 1990s as the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction and the recent International Convention to Combat Desertification and Drought (June, 1994), an offshoot of deliberations at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development.