Drought -- National Drought Mitigation Center


Date of this Version



Published in Water International 26:3 (September 2001), pp. 349–357


Copyright © 2001 International Water Resources Association. Used by permission.


Patterns of water supply and use in Australia and the U.S.A. differ in many ways. This results in different perceptions concerning the nature of drought and policy approaches to its management. This paper discusses the differences and similarities and explores lessons that policy makers in both countries can learn from one another. A key difference between the two countries is that whereas drought is perceived in Australia essentially in terms of its impact on agriculture, in the U.S. both perceptions and policy are also heavily influenced by the impact of drought on urban communities. This has led to different policy emphases. In 1992 Australia established its National Drought Policy; the U.S. is presently considering the adoption of a national drought policy. These policies highlight drought being accepted as part of natural climate variability, rather than as a natural disaster. They also emphasize the protection of the natural resource base.