Making Communities Drought Resilient

United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD’s)
is focusing more on a drought preparedness approach which looks at
how to prepare policymakers, governments, local governments and
communities to become more drought resilient. Credit: Campbell
Easton/IPS

By Desmond Brown
GEORGETOWN, Feb 1 2019 (IPS)

The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification
(UNCCD’s) Drought Initiative is in full swing with dozens of
countries signing up to plan their drought programme.

The Drought Initiative involves taking action on national
drought preparedness plans, regional efforts to reduce drought
vulnerability and risk, and a toolbox to boost the resilience of
people and ecosystems to drought.

“As of right now we have 45 countries who have signed on to
our drought programme,” UNCCD Deputy Executive Secretary Dr.
Pradeep Monga told IPS.

He said UNCCD is focusing more on a drought preparedness
approach which looks at how to prepare policymakers, governments,
local governments and communities to become more drought
resilient.

UNCCD says that by being prepared and acting early, people and
communities can develop resilience against drought and minimise its
risks. UNCCD experts can help country Parties review or validate
existing drought measures and prepare a national drought plan to
put all the pieces together, identify gaps and ensure that
necessary steps are taken as soon as the possibility of drought is
signalled by meteorological services. It is envisaged that such a
plan would be endorsed and eventual action triggered at the highest
political level.

“Drought is a natural phenomenon. It’s very difficult
sometimes to predict or understand when it happens or how it
happens. Yes, prediction has become better with the World
Meteorological Organisation (WMO) so we know in advance that this
year there can be more drought than last year so we can prepare
communities better,” Monga said.

He said the more resilient communities are, the better they can
face the vagaries of climate change.

“They can also preserve their traditional practices or
biodiversity, and most importantly, they can help in keeping the
land productive,” Monga said.

“This is also important to migration – whether it’s
migration of people from urban areas to borders and then to other
countries and regions. We believe that addressing drought,
preparing communities, governments, policymaker and experts better
in drought becomes very relevant for addressing those issues which
otherwise will have cascading effects.”

He spoke to IPS at the
17th Session of the Committee for the Review of Implementation of
the UNCCD (CRIC 17)
, which wrapped up in Georgetown, Guyana on
Jan. 30.

Minister of State in the Ministry of the Presidency Joseph
Harmon says Guyana and the rest of the Caribbean are faced with
their own problems with drought.

He said that Guyana is looking at the utilisation of wells in
the communities which have been hit the hardest.

Harmon said Guyana and the Federative Republic of Brazil have
signed an agreement where the Brazilian army, working together with
Guyana Water Incorporated, Civil Defence Commission and the Guyana
Defence Force are drilling wells in at least eight major indigenous
communities in the southern part of the Rupununi.

“That will now allow for them to have potable water all year
round and that’s a major development for those communities,”
Harmon told IPS.

“Here in Guyana we speak about the Green State Development
Strategy and part of our promotion is that we speak about the good
life for all Guyanese. So, when we are able to provide potable
water to a community that never had it before, then to them, the
good life is on its way to them.

“This is what we want to replicate in every part of this
country where people can be assured that drought will never be a
factor which they have to consider in planning their lives, in
planting their crops, in managing the land which they have
again,” Harmon added.

UNCCD Executive Secretary Monique Barbut said droughts are
becoming more and more prevalent. For this reason, she said it is
even more crucial for countries to prepare.

“We see them more and more, and if you look at all the
[Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] IPCC reports, we know that they are
going to become even more severe and more frequent. This is the
reality we are faced with, whatever increase of temperature we
get,” Barbut told IPS.

“We have been looking in NCCD at what we do on drought. Last
year, I did propose a new initiative to the Parties because we
noticed that only three countries in the world had a drought
preparedness plan. Those three countries are the United States,
Australia and Israel.”

Barbut said while preparedness planning will not stop drought,
it will mitigate its effects if it is well planned.

“We launched an initiative last year and we’ve got the
resources to help 70 countries with their planning. They are now in
the process of doing that exercise and we hope that at the next
Conference of the Parties in October, we will be able to report on
those 70 countries and extend it to the rest of the world.”

According to the latest report from the IPCC, without a radical
transformation of energy, transportation and agriculture systems,
the world will hurtle past the 1.5 ° Celsius target of the Paris
Climate Agreement by the middle of the century.

Failing to cap global warming near that threshold dramatically
increases risks to human civilisation and the ecosystems that
sustain life on Earth, according to the report.

To keep warming under 1.5 °C, countries will have to cut global
CO2 emissions 45 percent below 2010 levels by 2030 and reach net
zero by around 2050, the report found, re-affirming previous
conclusions about the need to end fossil fuel burning. Short-lived
climate pollutants, such as methane, will have to be significantly
reduced as well.

More than 1.5 °C warming means nearly all of the planet’s
coral reefs will die, droughts and heat waves will continue to
intensify, and an additional 10 million people will face greater
risks from rising sea level, including deadly storm surges and
flooded coastal zones. Most at risk are millions of people in less
developed parts of the world, the panel warned.

The post
Making Communities Drought Resilient
appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Source: FS – All – Ecology – News
Making Communities Drought Resilient