Preparing for the Drought

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Did you know that droughts are the leading cause of human death and displacement? Droughts are the worst natural hazard beingfaced by humans as they cause more damage than cyclones, floods and earthquakes combined. Want to know how many countries have a formal national drought policy to address this problem? Answer, just one.

Yes, Australia is the only country in the world that has a policy to help the country plan for a future with drought. The importance of having a policy stems from the fact that while political parties change, a policy is something all members in power must abide by. Without a policy most political parties create plans that change depending on who is in office.

This boils down to one thing, most countries are currently operating on a reactive basis, meaning they wait for a drought to take hold before addressing its side effects. This reaction-based strategy will not be sufficient enough to help prevent or slow down future disasters caused by drought. Especially in our volatile world where thanks to globalisation all countries feel the shock of a neighbour or political ally.

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To address this little glitch, the UN helped organise the High-Level Meeting on National Drought Policy in Geneva from March 11-15th. The outcome of this meeting was a lot of idea sharing, urging for action and emphasising the need for  emergency relief plans. In summary, a lot of talk but nothing specific. To view this 3 page Final Declaration click here.

While it is great to see that steps are being taken to address drought and nations are starting to think of drought relief road maps, more proactive steps are necessary. Especially since UN predicts that dry areas will get drier and wet areas will get wetter in our near future, which should cause lots of negative impacts on our global food system. To see all the global areas currently being affected by drought check out the UCL Global Drought Monitor.

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