A Positive Policy Turn for People Most Vulnerable To Drought Worldwide

By UNCCD Press Release
Mar 26 2020 (IPS-Partners)

The international community is developing policy measures and
actions to help the people most vulnerable to drought to take early
action to avoid loss of life, and the heavy and growing losses of
livelihoods and damage to property and ecosystems following
droughts.

The
Intergovernmental Working Group on Drought
(IWG) that is
leading this initiative is convening for the first time on 26 March
through virtual meetings involving four task teams. The outcomes of
the initiative could become effective as early as 2022.

The importance of early warning followed by early action for the
most vulnerable people and ecosystems as well as the need for
preparedness to respond fast, cannot be over-emphasized.

The IWG’s virtual meeting is taking place after the Group’s
first face-to-face meeting, scheduled for 25-27 March in Brussels,
Belgium, was suspended following the outbreak and global spread the
corona virus, COVID-19.

“Over 70 countries worldwide are affected by drought, and the
droughts are spreading to new areas, recurring more often and
lasting longer, sometimes stretching over a few years or even
decades in some regions. The impacts of these new drought patterns
on people, property, infrastructure and ecosystems are
unprecedented and are a growing concern for both developed and
developing countries,” says Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive Secretary of
the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, which is
facilitating the work of the IWG.

“Half of the global land is projected to be drylands and may
be more prone to drought by 2050. The increase in drought disasters
is a wake-up call to this threat, especially because some avoidable
impacts occur due to late action, and at worst, inaction. The
possibility created by the IWG to share experiences and learn from
the best examples of mitigating drought is a big step forward,”
he adds.

Millions of people are dealing with the prospect of drought at
the moment.

In just a few months (April), in a situation reminiscent of the
2015 to 2017 drought, a record 45 million people in Southern Africa
may be food insecure, partly due to drought. The
World Food Programme
needed 489 million United States dollars
by February 2020 to help the 8.3 million people that were already
food insecure in the region, but had yet to raise half of the
required sum.

Droughts destroy food that could feed 81 million people – a
population the size of Germany – every day, for a year, according
to a recent
World Bank report
. Drought is also one of the most cited
reasons by young people leaving their homes in search of better
lives elsewhere, including those migrating to Europe, according to

a recent survey
of migration patterns in Morocco.

“I cannot emphasize enough the importance of this new
inter-governmental initiative. Its value goes beyond the immediate
outcomes of saving lives, livestock, rangelands and livelihoods in
case of drought. It will improve security in some of the world’s
most fragile areas,” Jarso Ibrahim Gollole, a pastoralist and
natural resource advisor with
Mercycorps in Kenya
says about the results expected from the
IWG.

“The conflicts that arise among communities living across
borders – but also within borders – as they compete, in times
of drought, over few and shrinking pastures would be minimized.
Also, the influx of communities from neighboring countries seeking
to take advantage of the government services set aside for affected
communities in Kenya, where drought responses are better, even if
they are not perfect, would decrease. A collective approach to
managing drought is far better than what we have today,” he
added.

Drought and drought impacts are also addressed under the

Climate Change
and
Disaster Risk Reduction
processes of the United Nations. But
the policy focus on drought is only one among many other disasters,
that are more noticeable and get stronger policy actions,
especially due to the dramatic nature of their arrival.

Droughts, by contrast, set in slowly and wreak havoc on some of
the world’s poorest populations. By focusing only on drought, the
IWG is expected to develop concrete, feasible and appropriate
global options to address its socio-economic impacts
effectively.

“Another world is possible. Drought resilience for countries
at varying levels of economic development is possible. Witness the
resilience of Ethiopia’s Tigray region to the 2014-2016 drought,
the famous water harvesting scheme in Brazil’s north-east region,
the Australian drought trust fund that helps farmers and the
drought management approach of United States where a Presidential
decree is issued early. How drought is managed must change
fundamentally,” Thiaw said.

“Drought knows no boundaries, political or sectoral. It is a
connector. The work of the IWG can bring much-needed coordination
among stakeholders at all levels and rally affected countries to
act and work together,” says Daniel Tsegai, the UNCCD’s drought
expert in charge of the IWG process.

“Interest in the work of the IWG is already high. Governments,
international and non-governmental organizations and other actors
have sent close to 100 submissions for consideration. The
submissions deal with issues such as collaboration among
institutions, the barriers and challenges to drought response and
recovery, the opportunities and measures for action as well as the
lessons learned from successful cases,” he said.

The IWG was established in September 2019 following intense
negotiations by governments during the 14th session of the
Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention to
Combat Desertification.

Its outcomes, which include recommendations for action, will be
presented to policy makers at the 15th COP session in Fall
2021.

Notes to Editors
See the
FAQ
for background information about the Intergovernmental
Working Group on Drought. For more information about the IWG
meetings and processes, contact Daniel Tsegai, dtsegai@unccd.int or visit
https://www.unccd.int/news-events/call-experts-intergovernmental-working-group-drought


Fact Sheet

Attached is a list of potential interviewees.

1. Mr. Daniel Tsegai
Programme Officer
UNCCD secretariat
E-mail: dtsegai@unccd.int
2. Dr. Caroline King-Okumu
International Development Opportunities Manager
Centre for Ecology and Hydrology
E-mail: carkin@ceh.ac.uk
3. Mr. Jarso Ibrahim Gollole
Natural Resource Advisor and Pastoralist
MercyCorps, Kenya
E-mail: jgollole@mercycorps.com

For media-related questions contact: wwischnewski@unccd.int

The post
A Positive Policy Turn for People Most Vulnerable To Drought
Worldwide
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A Positive Policy Turn for People Most Vulnerable To Drought Worldwide