Minimizing the impacts of droughts

15:15 | 13/05/2014 Science - Technology

(VEN) - It will be very helpful if countries in the Asia-Pacific region move from taking the reactive, crisis-based approaches to a more pro-active and risk-based drought management approach.

Droughts cause serious impacts on food security

From May 6-9, 2014 the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the Secretariat of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), the United Nations Convention on Biopersity (CBD) and UN Water-Program on Capacity Development (DPC) in collaboration with the Vietnam Academy for Water Resources (VAWR) and the Institute for Water Development and Partnership (IWDP) of Vietnam organized a Regional Workshop on Capacity Development to Support National Drought Management Policies in Asia. The workshop was attended by countries concerned with drought from Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.

FAO said that droughts now can have the most serious impacts of all natural disasters, making dramatic impacts on food security, social stability, environment and the economies in general in the world.

Drought causes income losses as it affects several sectors. Prices of food products rise because supplies are reduced, resulting in severe effects on the poorest and the most vulnerable layers of the society. Shortfalls in food production lead to substantial increases in imports to meet local needs, which then often lead to increased fiscal pressure on national budgets.

Although drought is a normal feature of the climate worldwide, Vietnam and the Asia-Pacific region in general have seen frequent droughts and also been vulnerable to drought as demonstrated by the drastic impacts it causes.

At the workshop, many experts agreed that until now, there is evidence that these impacts can be significantly reduced through the adoption and implementation of risk-based drought management policies. Accordingly, most countries in the Asia-Pacific region only have emergency and recovery strategies to regulate disasters after droughts have caused damages. However, such reactive responses often prove to be ineffective, and even increase possibilities of subsequent droughts.

Very few countries have so far developed and implemented proactive, risk-based national drought management policies which will be very beneficial if they move from the reactive, crisis-based approaches to a more pro-active and risk-based drought management approach.

A representative from FAO said at the workshop “It is true that over the past years, many Asian countries including Vietnam have made recognizable efforts to mitigate the impacts of droughts. The experience from past work on drought showed that, first, the need for national policies on drought and, second, the need for integration through strong collaboration between the main sectors concerned with drought, particularly water, agriculture, meteorology, environment and others.

Therefore, this workshop aims at promoting preparedness to respond to drought as a mean to reduce drought impacts as well as to build the capacity of participating countries to develop and implement national drought risk management strategies.

FAO said the overall goal is to create a favorable environment for the resilience of the society when droughts happen. This means to build capacity for all classes in the society, including natural resources managers, technicians, farmers and other practitioners, such as fishermen, foresters and herders, etc, as well as communities and simple citizens so that they can confront drought impacts./.

                                                                                                                                          By Nguyen Tien Dung