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WMO, UNCCD Call for Coordinated Efforts to Manage Risks from Drought

21 August 2012: The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) have announced plans to help countries improve their drought risk management and develop effective, long-term solutions.

Commenting on the motivations for these renewed efforts, WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud stressed that “Climate change is projected to increase the frequency, intensity, and duration of droughts, with impacts on many sectors, in particular food, water, and energy.” He called for moving "away from a piecemeal, crisis-driven approach" and developing "integrated risk-based national drought policies.”

UNCCD Executive Secretary Luc Gnacadja noted the vulnerability of both developed and developing countries, pointing to examples such as the “2010 drought-induced famine in the Greater Horn of Africa, the ongoing crisis in the Sahel region and the extensive drought in the US.”

Mannava Sivakumar, Director of the WMO Climate Prediction and Adaptation Branch, underscored the severity of droughts in the US and India, particularly in food-producing regions, and highlighted their potential impact on global food prices and food security. A 2011 statement from the WMO also pointed to severe drought in 2010 and 2011 in parts of East Africa, including the semi-arid regions eastern and northern Kenya, western Somalia and southern border areas of Ethiopia.

To help countries improve or develop national policies to improve drought risk management, WMO, UNCCD and other UN partners are planning to organize a High-level Meeting on National Drought Policy from 11-15 March 2013. [WMO Press Release] [UNCCD Press Release] [UN Press Release]