UN urges ‘reboot’ of drought responses to focus more on preparedness
“Saving livelihoods means saving lives – this is what building resilience is all about,” he added, noting that for years, the focus has been responding to droughts when they happen, rushing to provide emergency assistance and to keep people alive.
While these emergency responses are important, investing in preparedness and resilience puts countries on a footing to act quickly before it is too late, meaning that farmers and rural communities are better positioned to cope with extreme weather when it does hit.
The need for a global drought re-boot is pressing.
The many impacts of drought drive not only hunger and instability but cause economic losses up to $8 billion each annually.
As the planet’s climate changes, severe dry-spells are becoming more and more frequent.
Since the 1970s, the land area in the world affected by situations of drought has doubled.
Over 80 percent of damage and losses caused by drought are born by agriculture in the developing world, FAO studies have shown.
Between 2005 and 2016, 84 droughts affected 34 different African nations.
“WMO provides guidance and scientific information to strengthen national services responsible for addressing drought risks to agriculture,” said WMO Secretary General Petteri Taalas.
“This means investing in smallholder farmers to help them address productivity challenges, give them access to markets and finance and most importantly encourage climate-smart agriculture so that when the drought inevitably comes, they have the tools they need to survive and thrive,” said Mr. Houngbo.