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Overall coordination of drought management issues is the responsibility of the Permanent Inter-Ministerial Council for Rural development (PICRD) which represents the political board and has the ability to officially declare the onset of drought. National advisory and executive boards and regional and local settings of drought managers represent the other operational actors of drought management.


How to shift from reactive to proactive plans of drought?

Because of the severe droughts of the last 30 years, a reactive action plan was adopted in 1985 to mitigate the drought effects and focused initially on population drinking water and livestock relief. However, due to more dramatic subsequent development of droughts, the actual national programme for drought mitigation has 2 clear orientations:

An operationally oriented short term programme with relief operations as the main focus.

A structurally oriented drought planning programme focusing on the long-term proactive approach to drought mitigation.

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When a drought occurs nationwide, the policy so far applied consists of setting up a national drought programme to combat the deleterious consequences of drought. This is typically a crisis-management oriented approach whose cost is tremendous in terms of public money investment, time and human resource needs.

Meteorological drought and weather forecasts

Meteorological drought can be described in terms of reactive and proactive responses. Thus, series of triggers such as daily weather forecast, rainfall departure from normal and numbers of dry days are used to analyse the development of the drought situation whereas long-term weather forecast simulation models are used for a more proactive drought management approach.

Agricultural drought

A series of triggers such as meteorological indices, warnings from field survey reports, farmers complaints, regional/provincial authorities warning, decrease of food and water availability for livestock, decrease of drinking water supply engender different reactive answers related to priority needs (potable drinking water, livestock feed and water), support to household income (job opportunities, credit redemption), financing of agricultural activities, regulation of market (subsidized barley and food stuff), public awareness and communication.

Hydrological drought and water management

The General Hydraulic Directorate has the responsibility of surface and underground water resources mobilization and water storage in the dams. It also evaluates the water needs throughout the drought period with the relevant structures of agricultural sector and other users. The evaluation is regularly made on the basis of indicators concerning the average rainfall deficit across the country, the amount of water stored in dams and the situation of the main ground water tables.

Socio-economic drought

One of the major impacts of drought is the considerable loss of agricultural seasonal jobs and the risks of rural migration to urban areas. Thus, the government has included job creation activities in the national drought relief programme such as the organization and construction of country roads, operations of land improvement like land stone clearing, and irrigation management operations of small and average hydraulic structures.

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In 1995, preliminary guidelines for a new approach to drought based on risk management principles provided the basis for a more proactive drought management approach. Drought risk management can be achieved by encouraging development of reliable climate forecasts and prediction, comprehensive early warning systems, preparedness plans, mitigation policies and programmes that reduce drought impacts and population vulnerability.

Working towards this end, the National Drought Observatory was created in 2001, and was conceived as a coordinating structure and also as a link between the scientific community working on various drought issues and the decision markers in charge of the drought mitigation activities. Its specific objectives are to:

Collect, analyse and deliver drought-related information in a timely systematic manner.

Characterize drought and define reliable indicators that can provide early warning on emerging drought conditions.

Conduct vulnerability assessments to determine those sectors most at risk from the occurrence of drought.

Establish criteria for declaring drought and triggering mitigation and response activities.

Ensure timely, accurate assessment of drought impacts.

Establish procedures to evaluate the effects and impacts of drought programmes.

However, there are still weaknesses to overcome, the most important being:

Institutional constraints associated with the major restructuring of the ministry departments dealing with water management.

Lack of availability of clear mechanisms for the circulation of information as required by the proactive approach to drought management.

Lack of internal financial resources to meet the recurrent cost of the proposed activities for institutional capacity building in proactive drought management.

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