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  1. 1. Australian and U.S. Drought Policy Experiences: Are Lessons Learned Transferable to Africa? Dr. Donald A. Wilhite, Director National Drought Mitigation Center University of Nebraska Lincoln, Nebraska U.S.A.
  2. 2. U.S. and Australia: A Comparative Analysis <ul><li>U.S. and Australia drought prone nations </li></ul><ul><li>National government has played a major role in the provision of drought assistance </li></ul><ul><li>Both governments have traditionally approached drought management via crisis management (response/reactive) </li></ul><ul><li>Recent severe drought events continue to foster an ongoing debate on policies and management strategies </li></ul>
  3. 3. Drought occurs virtually every year in the U.S. Recent 1999 to current drought event
  4. 4. Rainfall percentiles Australian Drought March 2002-January 2003
  5. 5. History of Australian Drought Policy <ul><li>Until 1989, drought was officially considered a natural disaster </li></ul><ul><li>Relief was via State Governments, and increasingly, the national Government often on an ad hoc basis </li></ul><ul><li>In 1989-early 1990s, official view changed – drought should be viewed as a natural part of the Australian environment, and farmers should adopt a risk management approach </li></ul><ul><li>In July 1992, a National Drought Policy was formally agreed </li></ul>
  6. 6. Australia’s National Drought Policy: 1992 <ul><li>Principles: </li></ul><ul><li>Encourage primary producers and other sections of rural Australia to adopt self-reliant approaches to managing climate variability </li></ul><ul><li>Maintain and protect Australia’s agricultural and environmental resource base during extreme climatic stress </li></ul><ul><li>Ensure early recovery of agricultural and rural industries, consistent with long term sustainable levels </li></ul>
  7. 7. Australia’s National Drought Policy <ul><li>Core principle of self-reliance, i.e. farmers in best position to develop agronomic systems, practices, and business strategies to manage agriculture drought </li></ul><ul><li>Moved drought policy from subsidy-based, crisis driven approach </li></ul><ul><li>Focused rural Australia on developing risk management strategies to manage climate and market variability </li></ul>
  8. 8. Australian Drought Policy Components <ul><li>Role of government is to provide farmers with skills/tools to help manage in self-reliant fashion </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Research into climate variability and predictions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Seasonal climate predictions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Decision support tools </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Training and educations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Tax incentives and social support </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Increase resiliency to drought through proactive, mitigation measures </li></ul>
  9. 9. Drought Exceptional Circumstances (DEC)—1995 <ul><li>Direct government intervention warranted only when </li></ul><ul><li>Drought is “exceptional” event (i.e., rare and severe) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Rare = 1 in 20 year event </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Severe = >12 consecutive months or 3 consecutive failed seasons </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Drought must affect a significant portion of businesses in the region </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Raised questions and debate over the criteria to be used to make this decision </li></ul>
  10. 10. U.S. Progress in Drought Planning and Policy <ul><li>Before early 1980s, states relied on federal government for assistance </li></ul><ul><li>Early 1980s saw a rapid increase in state drought response plans </li></ul><ul><li>Emphasis on response planning continues 1996 </li></ul><ul><li>Increasing number of state plans with emphasis on mitigation planning, i.e., risk management </li></ul><ul><li>Currently, 38 states with drought plans </li></ul><ul><li>Movement by states to emphasize drought planning has placed pressure on the federal government to develop a risk-based national policy </li></ul>
  11. 11. <ul><li>Key Components of Drought Plans include </li></ul><ul><li>Monitoring, prediction, and early warning </li></ul><ul><li>Risk and impact assessment </li></ul><ul><li>Mitigation and response </li></ul>States with plans emphasizing response Drought plans under revision States with plans emphasizing mitigation States developing long-term plans States delegating drought planning to local authorities States without drought plans Status of Drought Planning January 2005
  12. 12. Benefits of Drought Plans <ul><li>Proactive, emphasizes mitigation and response </li></ul><ul><li>Improves coordination between and within levels of government  organizational structure </li></ul><ul><li>Enhances early warning through integrated monitoring efforts </li></ul><ul><li>Involves stakeholders </li></ul>
  13. 13. Benefits of Drought Plans continued <ul><li>Identifies areas, groups, sectors at risk </li></ul><ul><li>Reduces economic, environmental, and social impacts (i.e., risk) </li></ul><ul><li>Reduces conflicts between water users </li></ul><ul><li>Improves information dissemination  better delivery systems </li></ul><ul><li>Builds public awareness </li></ul>
  14. 14. National Drought Preparedness Act <ul><li>Creates National Drought Council </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Federal and non-federal members </li></ul></ul><ul><li>National Office of Drought Preparedness </li></ul><ul><li>Emphasis on risk management </li></ul><ul><li>Promotes drought preparedness planning </li></ul><ul><li>National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) </li></ul>
  15. 15. Conclusions <ul><li>Political will must be present to change the drought management paradigm </li></ul><ul><li>Leadership and the appropriate organizational framework is critical—collaboration/partnerships within and between levels of government is essential in drought planning and policy development </li></ul><ul><li>Stakeholders must be involved early and often in the development of policies and plans </li></ul><ul><li>Public education and awareness building is critical for decision makers, policy makers, the media, and the public </li></ul>
  16. 16. Conclusions <ul><li>Transitioning from crisis to risk-based drought management requires additional financial resources up front to implement mitigation measures </li></ul><ul><li>Risk-based management will lessen impacts and the need for government and donor intervention through improved self-reliance </li></ul><ul><li>A risk-based management approach requires improved assessment tools and higher resolution analysis to better target mitigation actions and response programs </li></ul>
  17. 17. Conclusions <ul><li>Information for decision support must be efficiently delivered to users that are trained in the application of the information </li></ul><ul><li>Nations can learn from one another, adapting monitoring and risk and impact assessment tools and planning methodologies to national needs </li></ul><ul><li>Drought plans and policies must be dynamic, incorporating lessons learned and changing societal vulnerability because drought risk is a product of both exposure to the hazard and the vulnerability of society to the hazard (i.e., the social dimension of drought) Risk = Hazard x Vulnerability </li></ul>
  18. 18. Visit the NDMC drought.unl.edu [email_address]

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