Droughts have several economic, social and environmental impacts, depending on their intensity and duration. Occurrence of droughts is a natural event and it is not specific to a region or climatic regime, and it can occur in different climatic and geographic situations. Unlike floods that have limited coverage areas, droughts usually affect vast regions, and this causes a more widespread and extensive range of impacts which last for a long time. Therefore, droughts affect a large number of population in comparison with other natural disasters. The experiences in developed and developing countries on drought management have proved that besides the level of development, the impacts and consequences of this phenomenon are deep and considerable, even with different characteristics and nature. Undoubtedly, the occurrence of this phenomenon is one of the important obstacles in the development process of the countries. As the impacts of this event last for a long period, the countries and people who have been affected by this phenomenon are forced to suffer extensively not only during the actual drought but also after the event.
Evidently, the frequency, intensity, duration, spatial and geographical coverage of droughts will have wider dimensions in future due to climate change/variability impacts. Hence, occurrence of drought in any region, may pose global implications. The impact of drought on water and food security cannot be ignored.
There is a need for an enhanced and coordinated global movement to face and encounter the challenges of natural water-related disasters, especially droughts. Through the systematic measures included in this proposal, a platform could be created to bring together concerted efforts of the governmental and the non-governmental organizations so that an effective and coordinated action plan for drought management can be prepared and implemented. By mobilizing political wills and resources, this new initiative can develop effective measures to predict and produce preparedness, mitigation plans and adaptation strategies at global scale.
Introducing a dedicated initiative on drought under the title of the “International Drought Initiative” (IDI) can be a starting point and driving force for this global movement. In this proposal, the objectives and framework for establishing such an initiative are presented in anticipation of further deliberations by experts and relevant stakeholders. This concept paper has been developed by incorporating the view points of the water professionals and representatives of the IHP National Committees of Afghanistan, Iran, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Oman, Pakistan, and Tajikistan at a meeting held in Tehran on 27-28 July 2009. The initiative also carries the support of UNESCO Category II centers ICHARM and RCUWM
The objectives of the International Drought Initiative are as follows:
• To develop the methodology to prepare and compile policies and strategies related to drought adaptation, mitigation and management and encourage their inclusion in National Action Plans,
• To facilitate research and compile practical strategies to minimize impacts of drought for addressing emergency situations,
• To define the roles of stakeholders within the context of drought,
• To create an inclusive mechanism for the Governments, UN agencies, and NGOs that promotes drought management synergies,
• To facilitate creation of global drought warning systems and global drought watch, and
• To develop methodologies to assess damages and long term impacts of drought, including environmental conflicts.
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