The enigma of drought: management and policy issues for the 1990s

Donald A. Wilhite
1990 International Journal of Environmental Studies  
Drought affects more people than any other hazard, in both developed and developing countries, yet few governments have taken steps to prepare for it. This situation stems partly from the complex nature of drought, which affects various sectors of society in different ways, and partly from an inability or unwillingness of governments to accept drought as a normal part of climate, not as an extreme random event. Scientific and policy communities have become increasingly concerned about the
more » ... ned about the inability of governments to respond to drought in an effective and timely manner, and some have called for improved drought planning and management. This paper discusses planning as a means to reduce societal vulnerability to drought and outlines an approach that governments and international organizations can follow to prepare for severe drought. The basis of this approach is a ten-step planning process created from recommendations made at the 1986 International Symposium and Workshop on Drought. The status of drought planning worldwide is also discussed. Drought is the most complex and least understood of all natural hazards, affecting more people than any other hazard. 1 This paper will provide an overview of drought that will attempt to explain this apparent contradiction. If drought affects more people than any other natural hazard, it is logical to assume that it is a well-studied and well-understood phenomenon. A recent report estimates that more than 40 million people in Africa alone were affected by drought during the decade of the 1980s, 2 a huge increase over previous decades. The same study estimated that 24.4 million people were affected by drought worldwide during the 1970s.
doi:10.1080/00207239008710582 fatcat:dnu7xzxzi5fgne4kcgm2cuktra