Summary

Australia, South Africa, and the United States are extremely drought-prone nations with a longstanding history of government intervention in the form of drought relief. Drought impacts are substantial, and each government has addressed drought primarily through the crisis management approach. This approach has proved to be unsuccessful. Australia was the first of the three countries to move toward a national drought policy that emphasized a more risk-based management approach, focused on improving self-reliance and minimizing the need for government intervention during and in the post-drought period. South Africa and the United States have each followed a similar course of action and are at various stages in the development of a national drought policy. The lessons learned in each of these cases can be instructive to both developed and developing countries seeking a more proactive approach to drought management and improved levels of drought preparedness.

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