The World Meteorological Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification this week have joined forces to hold a meeting on National Drought Policy in Geneva. The meeting focuses on drought preparedness and management policies.
Droughts cause the deaths and displacement of more people than cyclones, floods and earthquakes combined, making them the world's most destructive natural hazard, FAO says, yet effective drought management policies are missing in most parts of the world.
"Despite being predictable, drought is the most costly and the deadliest disaster of our time. The decision to mitigate drought is ultimately political. Governments of all drought-prone countries need to adopt, mainstream and operationalize national drought policies, based on the principles of early warning, preparedness and risk management," said UNCCD Executive Secretary Luc Gnacadja. "The cost of crisis management far exceeds that of risk management and early action and we should not wait until the next drought, causing famine and claiming human lives."
From crisis management to disaster risk reduction
The purpose of the High-Level Meeting on National Drought Policy is to encourage countries to move from crisis management to disaster risk reduction – an approach already successfully embraced for hazards such as tropical cyclones and floods.
Specific targets include:
-Proactive mitigation and planning measures, risk management, public outreach and resource stewardship as key elements of effective national drought policy;
-Greater collaboration to enhance the national, regional and global observation networks and information delivery systems to improve public understanding of, and preparedness for, drought;