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Drought is a frequent visitor to Australia, South Africa, and the United States. Each country has struggled to effectively manage drought events, and lessons learned from these attempts have taught these countries that the reactive, crisis management approach is largely ineffective, promoting greater reliance on government and increasing societal vulnerability to subsequent drought episodes. Repeated occurrences of drought in recent decades have placed each nation on a course to develop a national drought policy that promotes improved self-reliance by placing greater emphasis on monitoring and early warning, improving decision support and preparedness planning, and enhancing risk management. Although each nation has differed in its approach, the goal is the sameā€”to reduce societal vulnerability to drought through improved self-reliance while minimizing the need for government intervention.

This chapter describes the process each country has gone through to reach its current level of preparedness and the status of current drought policies. A case study of each country will provide insight into the complexities of the policy development process, the obvious and not-so-obvious pitfalls, and future prospects. The ultimate objective of this chapter is to help other nations achieve a higher level of preparedness and improved drought policy through the transferability of some of the principal lessons learned.

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