The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), in collaboration with UNCCD, IDMP, WMO, and GWP, is spearheading a transformative approach to drought management. Shifting from a reactive stance to a proactive one focused on preparedness, the collaborative efforts have manifested in a series of regional workshops, fostering global cooperation to tackle the escalating challenges posed by droughts.
The regional workshops, held in Istanbul, Turkey, Bogotá, Colombia, and Lusaka, Zambia, convened ministries, national institutes, and over 60 national focal points to the UNCCD, alongside experts from approximately 35 countries spanning Latin America, the Caribbean, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, South-Pacific Asia, North Africa, and sub-Saharan Africa.
Thematic discussions during these workshops explored crucial aspects such as the role of technology, financial resources, national regulatory frameworks, and coordination mechanisms in integrated drought management.
Technology emerged as a linchpin for successful implementation, with discussions highlighting its potential in monitoring, early warning systems, and water-use efficiency. However, the challenges lie in unequal access to technology due to inadequate research and development and financial resources in many countries.
Maher Salman, FAO senior land and water officer, emphasised the need for proactive drought management, stating, “No poverty or food hunger reduction strategy can be successful if drought is not tackled proactively, and drought management cannot be enhanced without adequate and innovative financial resources.”
Financial constraints were identified as a primary hurdle, hindering the implementation of essential measures like monitoring, early warning systems, and technology-based mitigation measures. Salman stressed the significance of investing in drought management and tracking financial flows for successful intervention.
The role of national actors was also underlined, with discussions emphasizing the imperative need for improved coordination among institutions. Ken Tommy, a representative from Sierra Leone, called for strengthened collaboration among national institutions to avoid overlapping, inconsistency, and wastage of resources.
The workshops were conducted within the framework of the GEF-funded project “Enabling activities for implementing UNCCD COP drought decisions.” Covering crucial areas such as assessing national drought plans, institutional responsibilities, and drought finance mechanisms, the workshops provided a platform for interactive discussions and knowledge exchange.
The participatory approach facilitated a collaborative learning environment, enabling participants to identify common challenges and devise practical solutions. The success of the project, set to conclude by the end of the year, has prompted proposals for a second phase, with preparations already underway to build on the achieved milestones in proactive global drought management.