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Australia is an arid continent with a high variability in its annual rainfall. Given the frequency and severity of droughts and the consequent high financial and social costs to the nation and to individuals, and the associated potential for further degradation of the land, a national policy on drought was clearly needed.
Australia’s National Drought Policy (NDP) was ratified by the state and Commonwealth (federal) governments in 1992 (White, 1993; White et al., 1993; White and O’Meagher, 1995). Its aims are to:
• encourage primary producers and other sections of rural Australia to adopt self-reliant approaches to managing for climatic variability;
• maintain and protect Australia’s agricultural and environmental resource base during periods of extreme climate stress; and
• ensure early recovery of agricultural and rural industries, consistent with long-term sustainable levels.
Further detail on policy evolution in both Australia and South Africa is described by O’Meagher, et al. (1998b).