Drought

A drought is a slow-onset phenomenon consisting of a prolonged period of abnormally low rainfall, snowfall or snowmelt that results in reduced groundwater, surface water and/or reservoir levels. The shortages of water for drinking, sanitation and irrigation have an impact on ability to sustain agriculture, livestock and livelihoods, and can lead to food insecurity, spread of disease, malnutrition and starvation, migration and dislocation, and economic losses. Drought can also adversely affect power generation, transportation and commercial or industrial needs. [Source: IFRC, “Public Awareness & Public Education For Disaster Risk Reduction: Key Messages”]

Household

Be informed

  • Learn about month, seasonal and long-term weather outlooks and what they may mean for your area
  • Understand the optimal weather conditions for different agricultural practices and water requirements, and compare with current practices
  • Find out about communication channels for early warning about drought in your community

Work with neighbors and community

  • Participate in community risk mapping, capacity mapping and drought monitoring
  • Work with local authorities to develop a drought mitigation plan
  • Work with local water suppliers to develop a water conservation plan

Plan for rationing of water and food

  • Plan for initial basic ration of food equivalent to about 2,100 calories per person per day.
  • Food ration should be as simple as possible (staples such as rice, corn, wheat flour or corn-soy blend; concentrated source of energy such as oil or another fat; concentrated source of protein such as beans, peas, lentils)
  • Learn about the most vulnerable people in your community, including who and where they are and how you can help them

Plan own land use with water conservation in mind

  • Approach water as a community resource, and plan accordingly
  • Work with local authorities wherever possible to plan for and reduce the impacts of water shortages
  • Identify water resources and learn how to conserve and extend them

Assess epidemic risks and plan for prevention

  • Stay in contact with your primary health care provider and learn about:
    • how to keep water clean or purify it
    • good sanitation and hygiene practices
    • available immunization programs
    • airborne, water-borne or vector-borne risks you may face
    • what kinds of information to communicate

Plan to improve your household food security

  • Buy crop insurance
  • Plant backyard gardens
  • Set up seed banks
  • Store food for sue during scarcity
  • Look for alternative sources of income to fill the food gap
  • Monitor the grazing and fodder situation for livestock

Mitigate loss of livestock

  • Manage pastures or rangelands to protect livestock
  • Decide the optimal number of animals that the household can maintain
  • Plan de-stocking of animals before the crisis affects them seriously
  • Use fodder to sustain the most important animals: mothers and kids, and other productive asset animals
  • Keep part of the income from the de-stocking for re-stocking after the drought crises
  • Use veterinary services to ensure the health of your livestock

Conserve water…

  • in soil through sustainable agriculture and landscaping practices (lay green driveways and water-permeable asphalt rather than concrete, practice conservation agriculture)
  • by minimizing outdoor usage (inspect pipes and outdoor taps for leaks, cover wells to reduce evaporation, harvest rainwater)
  • by minimizing indoor usage (conserve running water by taking shorter showers, by cleaning vegetables in a basin rather than under running water)

[Source: IFRC, “Public Awareness & Public Education For Disaster Risk Reduction: Key Messages”]

,

Community Organization

Promote community water resource management

  • Encourage community members to protect water catchment areas from evaporation and contamination )for example, by pesticides), and minimize waste

Promote the prevention of deforestation and practice of reforestation

  • Encourage community members to protect water catchment areas from deforestation
  • Encourage the re-forestation of water catchment areas

Promote conservation of water in soil through sustainable agriculture and landscaping practices

  • Plant trees-especially species that need little water-and mulch around them
  • Recycle irrigation water
  • Reduce run-off by planting barriers such as vetiver, lemongrass or agave
  • Avoid slash and burn agriculture
  • Avoid waste of irrigation water due to poor-quality irrigation canals
  • Implement crop diversification and inter-cropping to improve yields by having plants complement and support each other

Promote conservation of water by minimizing outdoor usage

  • Conserve water outdoors by cleaning pathways with a broom (not water), washing cars with a bucket, and covering pools to reduce evaporation
  • Where livestock use the same water source as people, explore alternative methods of water usage

Promote conservation of water by minimizing indoor usage

  • Instruct community members how to inspect pipes, taps and toilets for leaks, and help repair them
  • Campaign for the conservation of running water at home

Promote the preservation and storage of food year round

  • Encourage preservation and storing of dry foods, tinned food, and grains that last 3-12 months
  • Encourage the storage of dried yeast, sugar, jams, chutneys, sauces, tea leaves, peanut butter and biscuits
  • Encourage the storage of products to produce fresh food at home, such as yogurt (milk powder, water and yogurt culture), herbs, germinated seeds (bean sprouts, onion seeds)

Promote principles if good nutrition

  • In average conditions, an adult should drink about two liters of water per day, although this amount may increase or decrease under different conditions
  • Plan for basic food ration equivalent to about 2,100 calories per person per day
  • Food ration should be as simple as possible (staples such as rice, corn, wheat flour or corn-soy blend; concentrated source of energy such as oil or another fat; concentrated source of protein such as beans, peas, lentils)
  • Learn about the most vulnerable people in your community, including who and where they are and how you can help them

[Source: IFRC, “Public Awareness & Public Education For Disaster Risk Reduction: Key Messages”]

,

Local and National Government

At a minimum community officials and other key stakeholders should take the following steps to ensure preparedness and readiness in drought prone communities:

  • assess their vulnerability to drought
  • understand past droughts and the local climate
  • monitor drought
  • prepare a thorough set of actions to be taken before, during, and after a drought
  • educate the public on this plan and the risks of the area

[Source: the Drought-Ready Communities guide]

Consider stockpiling essential foods

  • consider which of the following three levels of food security or insecurity your community may face and how to resource them:
    1. self-sufficient
    2. food insecure
    3. food and livelihoods insecure

[Source: IFRC, “Public Awareness & Public Education For Disaster Risk Reduction: Key Messages”]

In addition, watershed protection is an essential part of effective drought risk management in most areas of the world. Programs to align the decision-making of landowners and agricultural producers through financial incentives and technical assistance are important tools to help communities to manage natural resources in a sustainable manner.  Conservation practices that address natural resource concerns can also provide significant opportunities to save energy, improve soil, water, plant, air, animal and related resources on agricultural and forest lands.

,

Workplace

Consider creating a or revising your current workplace’s Business Continuity Program.

Periods of abnormal dryness are a normal, recurrent feature of climate, and are often predictable. However, they are also impacted by the human land-use degradation, dam construction and climate change. Vulnerability is made worse by the following factors:

  • population pressures
  • food insecurity
  • economic systems that are strictly dependent on rain-fed agriculture
  • poor infrastructure including irrigation, water supply and sanitation systems
  • health conditions
  • seasonality
  • absence of warning systems
  • other concurrent economic and political conditions

[Source: IFRC, “Public Awareness & Public Education For Disaster Risk Reduction: Key Messages”]

Drought: Pronounced absence or marked deficiency of precipitation. [Source: ReliefWeb]

Dry Spell: Period of abnormally dry weather. Use of the term should be confined to conditions less severe than those of a drought. [Source: UN OCHA]

https://www.preparecenter.org/wp-content/sites/default/files/topics/keymessages_drought_ifrc.pdf