Summary And Conclusion

Drought is an insidious natural hazard that is a normal part of the climate of virtually all regions. It should not be viewed as merely a physical phenomenon. Rather, drought is the result of the interplay between a natural event and the

Society exposed to drought





nt e v

st y s

re pr

g in






rut lu





Risk-based drought policy and plans developed m en ce

Drought early warning system implemented


aware of and


to vulnerable



land tenure



Drought early warning system implemented

Drought mitigation actions implemented

Lessons learned

Lessons learned

Impacts avoided or reduced

Impacts avoided or reduced

Political capital

Policies to enhance social adaptive capacity, at both local and national scales

All groups able to claim their rights

Figure 4 Drought-resilient society. (Modified from ISDR Discussion Group.)

demand placed on a water supply by human-use systems. It becomes a disaster if it has a serious negative impact on people in the absence of adequate mitigating measures.

Many definitions of drought exist; it is unrealistic to expect a universal definition to be derived. Drought can be grouped by type of disciplinary perspective as follows: mete-

orological, agricultural, hydrological, and socioeconomic. Each discipline incorporates different physical and biological factors in its definition. But above all, we are concerned with the impact of drought on people. Thus, definitions should be impact oriented, combining both physical and socioeconomic aspects, in order to be used operationally by decision makers. Definitions should also reflect the unique regional climatic characteristics.

The three characteristics that differentiate one drought from another are intensity, duration, and spatial extent. Intensity refers to the degree of precipitation shortfall and/or the severity of impacts associated with the departure. Intensity is closely linked to the duration of the event. Droughts normally take 2 to 3 months to become established but may then persist for months or years, although the intensity and spatial character of the event will change from month to month or season to season.

The impacts of drought are diverse and depend on the underlying vulnerability of the population. Vulnerability, in turn, is determined by a combination of social, economic, cultural, and political factors, at both micro and macro levels. In many parts of the world, it appears that societal vulnerability to drought is escalating, and at a significant rate. Understanding vulnerability is a critical first step in drought management, for risk reduction and disaster preparedness. A good vulnerability analysis can play a key role in underpinning a DEWS, designed to predict the occurrence and impact of drought. But the purpose of an early warning system is also to elicit a timely response, which in turn depends on adequate resources and political will.

It is imperative that increased emphasis be placed on mitigation, preparedness, and prediction and early warning if society is to reduce the economic and environmental damages associated with drought and its personal hardships. This will require interdisciplinary cooperation and a collaborative effort with policy makers at all levels.


Blaikie, P, T Cannon, I Davis, B Wisner. At Risk: Natural Hazards, People's Vulnerability, and Disasters. London: Routledge Publishers, 1994.

Buchanan-Smith, M. Case Study of Gujarat, India—The Earthquake and Communal Rioting: 2001-2002. Prepared for the BRCS-hosted seminar on Natural Disasters and Complex Political Emergencies, 6th November 2003, London, 2003a.

Buchanan-Smith, M. Case Study of the Bahr El Ghazal Famine, South Sudan: 1997-1998. Prepared for the BRCS-hosted seminar on Natural Disasters and Complex Political Emergencies, 6th November 2003, London, 2003b.

Buchanan-Smith, M, D Barton. Evaluation of the Wajir Relief Programme: 1996-1998. Oxford, UK: Oxfam, 1999.

Buchanan-Smith, M, S Davies. Famine Early Warning and Response—The Missing Link. London: IT Publications, 1995.

Chambers, R. Vulnerability: How the Poor Cope. IDS Bulletin 20(2). Sussex, UK: Institute of Development Studies, 1989.

Collinson, S, ed. Power, Livelihoods and Conflict: Case Studies in Political Economy Analysis for Humanitarian Action. HPG Report 13. London: Overseas Development Institute, 2003. Available on line at hypgreport13_a.pdf and 13_b.pdf.

Corbett, J. Famine and household coping strategies. World Development 16(9):1092-1112, 1988.

Cosgrave, J, A Jacobs, M McEwan, P Ntata, M Buchanan-Smith. A Stitch in Time? Independent Evaluation of the Disasters Emergency Committee's Southern Africa Crisis Appeal. July 2002 to June 2003. Volume 1: Main Report. Oxford, UK: Valid International, 2004.

De Waal, A. New Variant Famine in Southern Africa. Presentation for SADC VAC Meeting, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. 17-18 October, 2002.

Ellis, F. Human Vulnerability and Food Insecurity: Policy Implications. Forum for Food Security in Southern Africa, August, 2003.

FEMA. National Mitigation Strategy. Washington, D.C.: Federal Emergency Management Agency, 1995.

Gillette, HP. A creeping drought under way. Water and Sewage Works March:104-105, 1950.

Glantz, MH. Climate Affairs: A Primer. Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 2003.

IPCC. Climate Change. The Scientific Basis. Contributions of Working Group I to the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. JT Houghton, Y Ding, DJ Griggs, M Noguer, PJ van de Linden, X Dai, K Maskell, CA Johnson, eds. U.K. and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001.

ISDR Drought Discussion Group. Drought: Living with Risk—An Integrated Approach to Reducing Societal Vulnerability to Drought. Secretariat, International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, Geneva, Switzerland, 2003.

O'Neill, WG. An Introduction to the Concept of Rights-Based Approach to Development: A Paper for InterAction. Washington, D.C.: Interaction, December, 2003. Available online at

Pessoa, D. Drought in Northeast Brazil: Impact and Government Response. In: DA Wilhite, WE Easterling, eds. Planning for Drought: Toward a Reduction of Societal Vulnerability (pp. 471-488). Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1987.

Save the Children (U.K.). The Household Economy Approach: A Resource Manual for Practitioners. London: Save the Children, 2000.

Tannehill, IR. Drought: Its Causes and Effects. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University, 1947.

Wilhite, DA, ed. Drought: A Global Assessment. London: Routledge Publishers, 2000.

Wilhite, DA, MH Glantz. Understanding the drought phenomenon: The role of definitions. Water International 10:111-120, 1985.

Wilhite, DA, MJ Hayes, C Knutson, KH Smith. Planning for drought: Moving from crisis to risk management. Journal of the American Water Resources Association 36:697-710, 2000a.

Wilhite, DA, MKV Sivakumar, DA Wood, eds. Early Warning Systems for Drought Preparedness and Management. Proceedings of an Experts Meeting, World Meteorological Organization, Geneva, Switzerland, 2000b.

Young, H, S Jaspars, R Brown, J Frize, H Khogali. Food-Security Assessments in Emergencies: A Livelihoods Approach. HPN Network Paper No. 36. London: ODI, 2001.

How To Survive The End Of The World

How To Survive The End Of The World

Preparing for Armageddon, Natural Disasters, Nuclear Strikes, the Zombie Apocalypse, and Every Other Threat to Human Life on Earth. Most of us have thought about how we would handle various types of scenarios that could signal the end of the world. There are plenty of movies on the subject, psychological papers, and even survivalists that are part of reality TV shows. Perhaps you have had dreams about being one of the few left and what you would do in order to survive.

Get My Free Ebook

Post a comment