As its first official action, the drought task force should state the general purpose for the drought plan. Government officials should consider many questions as they define the purpose of the plan, such as the
• Purpose and role of government in drought mitigation and response efforts
• Most drought-prone areas of the state or nation
• Historical impacts of drought
• Historical response to drought
• Most vulnerable economic and social sectors
• Role of the plan in resolving conflict between water users and other vulnerable groups during periods of shortage
• Current trends (e.g., land and water use, population growth) that may increase or decrease vulnerability and conflicts in the future
• Resources (human and economic) the government is willing to commit to the planning process
• Legal and social implications of the plan
• Principal environmental concerns caused by drought
A generic statement of purpose for a plan is to reduce the impacts of drought by identifying principal activities, groups, or regions most at risk and developing mitigation actions and programs that alter these vulnerabilities. The plan is directed at providing government with an effective and systematic means of assessing drought conditions, developing mitigation actions and programs to reduce risk in advance of drought, and developing response options that minimize economic stress, environmental losses, and social hardships during drought.
The task force should then identify the specific objectives that support the purpose of the plan. Drought plan objectives will vary within and between countries and should reflect the unique physical, environmental, socioeconomic, and political characteristics of the region in question. For a provincial, state, or regional plan, objectives that should be considered include the following:
• Collect and analyze drought-related information in a timely and systematic manner.
• Establish criteria for declaring drought emergencies and triggering various mitigation and response activities.
• Provide an organizational structure and delivery system that ensures information flow between and within levels of government.
• Define the duties and responsibilities of all agencies with respect to drought.
• Maintain a current inventory of government programs used in assessing and responding to drought emergencies.
• Identify drought-prone areas of the state or region and vulnerable economic sectors, individuals, or environments.
• Identify mitigation actions that can be taken to address vulnerabilities and reduce drought impacts.
• Provide a mechanism to ensure timely and accurate assessment of drought's impacts on agriculture, industry, municipalities, wildlife, tourism and recreation, health, and other areas.
• Keep the public informed of current conditions and response actions by providing accurate, timely information to media in print and electronic form (e.g., via TV, radio, and the World Wide Web).
• Establish and pursue a strategy to remove obstacles to the equitable allocation of water during shortages and establish requirements or provide incentives to encourage water conservation.
• Establish a set of procedures to continually evaluate and exercise the plan and periodically revise the plan so it will stay responsive to the needs of the area.
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