LAC Region Steps Up Drought Preparedness as Studies Enumerate Costs of Inaction
Photo by IISD | Lynn Wagner
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High-level policy makers and technical experts from 20 countries adopted a declaration calling for integrated approaches to enhance drought preparedness in the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region.

An inter-agency study found a correlation between prolonged droughts in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras – exacerbated by the El Niño phenomenon from 2014 to 2016 – and the increase in irregular migration from these countries to the US.

A paper published by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the Global Water Partnership (GWP) reviews available literature on the benefits of action and costs of inaction of drought mitigation and preparedness.

23 August 2017: The regional drought conference for Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) brought together high-level policy makers and technical experts from 20 countries and adopted a declaration calling for integrated approaches to enhance drought preparedness in the region. Separately, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the Global Water Partnership (GWP) released a study underscoring the need for more strategic and comprehensive drought response measures to strengthen resilience in vulnerable communities.

Co-organized by the Bolivian Ministry of Environment and Water, the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) and other partners, the LAC drought conference took place from 14-16 August 2017, in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, and addressed the theme, ‘Together against drought.’ The meeting aimed to strengthen partnerships and cooperation to ensure the formulation and implementation of a comprehensive and proactive drought management strategy for the region, which is facing increasingly severe droughts.

An inter-agency study published soon after the regional workshop found a correlation between prolonged droughts in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras – exacerbated by the El Niño phenomenon from 2014 to 2016 – and the increase in irregular migration from these countries to the US. The World Food Programme (WFP), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), in collaboration with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Organization of American States (OAS), jointly produced the study. It builds on the 2015 exploratory study titled, ‘Hunger Without Borders,’ which examined the links between migration, violence and food security.

The report underscores the need to invest in long-term programmes to discourage people in the Dry Corridor from emigrating, and to reduce the risks for emigrants and the families left behind.

The LAC report highlights the growing trend of younger and more vulnerable people leaving food-insecure areas, especially in the Dry Corridor that crosses the three countries, and notes that 47% of the families interviewed were food- insecure, the highest levels recorded in the region in recent years. It underscores the need to invest in long-term programmes to discourage people in the Dry Corridor from emigrating, and to reduce the risks for emigrants and the impact on the families left behind.

The LAC conference was the latest in a series of regional and international initiatives that have taken place since the High-level Meeting on National Drought Policy (HMNDP) in Geneva, Switzerland, in 2013. Following the HMNDP, UN-Water facilitated a series of capacity building workshops to support the development of national drought policies, which took further shape with the adoption of the UN Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction in 2015. In August 2016, the first African Drought Conference was held in Windhoek, Namibia, and adopted the strategic framework on Drought Resilient and Prepared Africa (DRAPA), guided by the six principles of: drought policy and governance for drought risk management; drought monitoring and early warning; drought vulnerability and impact assessment; drought mitigation, preparedness, and response; knowledge management and drought awareness; and reducing the underlying factors of drought risk.

A paper published by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the Global Water Partnership (GWP) reviews available literature on the benefits of action and costs of inaction of drought mitigation and preparedness. The authors note that, while significant progress has been made over the past decade in improving understanding of droughts and their impacts, significant gaps in research, policy and practice remain, particularly regarding the merits of risk management compared with traditional crisis management approaches. The study highlights the need for mutually compatible methodologies as a means of comprehensively assessing drought costs and impacts, and calls for building a pool of case studies to support a more rigorous understanding of drought costs, impact pathways, vulnerabilities, costs and the benefits of various crisis and risk management approaches. The paper was released during the Stockholm World Water Week 2017. [UNCCD Press Release] [LAC Drought Conference Programme] [UN News Centre Press Release on drought impacts in the dry corridor] [Food Security and Emigration: Why people flee and the impact on family members left behind in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras] [Benefits of action and costs of inaction: Drought Mitigation and preparedness – a literature review]


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