Date of this Version
Published in Towards a Compendium on National Drought Policies: Proceedings of an Expert Meeting, July 14-15, 2011, Washington, D.C. USA, pp. 96-107, edited by M. V. K. Sivakumar, R. P. Motha, D. A. Wilhite, and J. J. Qu (Geneva: World Meteorological Organization, 2011).
The development and implementation of a drought policy is intended to alter a nation’s approach to drought management. A national drought policy should establish a clear set of principles or operating guidelines to govern the management of drought and its impacts. The policy should be consistent and equitable for all regions, population groups, and economic sectors and consistent with the goals of sustainable development. The overriding principle of drought policy should be an emphasis on risk management through the application of preparedness and mitigation measures. The policy must reflect regional differences in drought characteristics, vulnerability, and impacts. The goal of the policy is to reduce risk by developing better awareness and understanding of the drought hazard and the underlying causes of societal vulnerability.
Climate change and projected changes in climate variability will likely increase the frequency and severity of drought and other extreme climatic events. In the case of drought, the duration of these events may also increase. Therefore, it is imperative for all drought-prone nations to adopt a more risk-based approach to drought management in order to increase resilience to future episodes of drought. To provide guidance in the preparation of national drought policies and planning techniques, it is important to define the key components of drought policy, its objectives, and steps in the implementation process. This paper presents an overview of drought planning and policy that can provide a model for nations to use to improve their level of preparedness for drought with the ultimate goal of reducing societal vulnerability to this pervasive natural hazard.