It's time to shift to proactive drought management policy: FAO
The UN body Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on Wednesday pitched for shifting from reactive to proactive drought management in order to protect both people and the environment from the impacts of this slow-onset disaster. This is one of the key messages in a report, titled 'Drought Preparedness', presented by the FAO at 14th Conference of the Parties (COP 14) of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) being held at Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh.
The FAO said desertification, land degradation and drought are damaging food production throughout the world. This year's edition of FAO's 'State of Food Insecurity in the World' report indicates that the number of undernourished people in drought-sensitive countries has increased 45.6 per cent since 2012, and that overall, hunger is on the rise -- particularly in drought-prone areas.
"It is time to change drought approaches from crisis to risk management, based on prediction, planning and preparedness," FAO's Land and Water Division Director Eduardo Mansur said. Climate shocks such as floods and drought, combined with poverty and vulnerability, can leave millions trapped in poverty and hunger, he said in a statement.
For example, in Somalia this year, sporadic rainfall in April and May -- coupled with the lasting effects of recurrent droughts in recent years -- have resulted in significant declines in crop and livestock production, according a recent country analysis by the FAO. Around 2.2 million people are estimated to be severely food insecure. Proactive approaches to drought preparedness explore various policy approaches that can be used to support drought-stricken populations and drought-affected activities, reduce vulnerability, and strengthen resilience, the FAO said.
The report provides new insights on managing droughts to safeguard food security. The FAO official further said, "Planning for drought must be a sustained responsibility of governments and other stakeholders, and this should include strategies to reduce future vulnerability as well as mechanisms for climate-smart, effective responses."
The new study also highlights how practices that preserve ecosystems can also benefit drought preparedness. Sustainable land, soil and water management help increase resilience to droughts. Such practices also have other benefits such as capturing carbon, increasing water supply and protecting biodiversity, he said. Many countries are already adopting good practices, such as establishing integrated production systems that combine forestry and agriculture, or agroforestry-livestock systems that contribute to land use sustainability and increase drought resilience.
The report was developed by FAO in collaboration with UNCCD, World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Global Water Partnership and the Integrated Drought Management Programme as contribution to the Global Framework on Water Scarcity in Agriculture (WASAG).
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