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Regional Workshop on Capacity Development to Support National Drought Management Policies in Asia

Drought WS
Ha Noi, 6 May, 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 Biodiversity (CBD) and UN Water-Programme on Capacity Development (DPC), in collaboration with the Viet Nam Academy for Water Resources (VAWR) and the Institute for Water Development and Partnership (IWDP) of Viet Nam organize a Regional Workshop on Capacity Development to Support National Drought Management Policies in Asia, in Ha Noi, Viet Nam, from 6 to 9 May, 2014.

Droughts are known to have the most far-reaching impacts of all natural disasters. They affect nations around the world with dramatic impacts on food security, social stability, environment and the economies at large. Drought causes income losses because it affects several sectors. Prices of food products rise as supplies are reduced, with severe effects on the poorest and most vulnerable layers of the society. Shortfalls in food production lead to substantial increases in imports to meet local needs, which often results in increased fiscal pressure on national budgets.

Drought is a normal feature of the climate worldwide, including Asia and the Pacific. The region has lived with drought since ancestral times as recorded by history. Several sub-regions of Asia and Pacific have been and continue to be drought prone today, and this is normal. The region is also vulnerable to drought as demonstrated by the drastic impacts it causes, but this is NOT normal because there is evidence today that these impacts can be significantly reduced through the adoption and implementation of risk-based drought management policies.

Nearly all countries of the region currently have only emergency and recovery strategies that regulate disaster response after droughts impacts have taken their toll. Such reactive responses, however, often prove to be ineffective, in addition to increasing vulnerability to sub-sequent droughts. Very few countries have so far developed and implemented proactive, risk-based national drought management policies. Countries would greatly benefit from moving away from the reactive, crisis-based approaches to a more pro-active and risk-based drought management approach.

It is true that many Asian countries have over the past years made recognizable efforts to mitigate drought impacts. The experience from past work on drought demonstrated, 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 as relevant.

This workshop aims at promoting pro-active drought preparedness, as a means to reduce drought impacts, and to build the capacity of participating countries to develop and implement national drought risk management strategies. Its overarching goal is to create the enabling environment for building societal resilience to drought. This means capacitating societies at all levels, including Natural Resources managers, technicians and support providers, farmers and other practitioners, such as fishermen, foresters, herders, etc. as well as communities and simple citizens, to absorb drought impacts.

The workshop is attended by participants from the main sectors concerned with drought from Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, and Viet Nam.

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