The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has called for a fundamental shift in the way drought is perceived and managed in the Near East and North Africa region. The agency said in a new report issued today that a more pro-active approach based on the principles of risk reduction is needed to build greater resilience to droughts.
Even though drought is a familiar phenomenon in the region, over the past four decades, droughts have become more widespread, prolonged and frequent – likely due to climate change.
The region is not only highly prone to drought, but also one of the world’s most water-scarce areas, with desert making up three quarters of its territory.
The Near East and North Africa’s technical, administrative, and financial capacities to deal with drought are inadequate, rendering farmers and herders – the first and worst hit when drought strikes – even more vulnerable.
Farmers and herders face mounting challenges as water becomes scarcer, land more degraded and eroded, and soils more fragile.
Yet, there is still too much focus on recovering from drought rather than being less susceptible to it, with insufficient funding, preparedness, and coordination remaining significant constraints, warns the report.
“We need to perceive and manage droughts differently, and shift from emergency response to more pro-active policy and long-term planning to reduce risks and build greater resilience,” said Rene Castro, FAO’s Assistant Director-General, Climate, Biodiversity, Land and Water Department.
“The report assesses gaps in current drought management and provides a solid base to help governments rethink policies and reformulate preparedness and response plans by offering solutions that take into account each country’s specific context,” added Castro.
Launched ahead of World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, the report was developed by FAO and the Water for Food Daugherty Global Institute at the University of Nebraska.
It covers 20 countries in the region – Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, UAE, and Yemen.
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Originally published on the FAO website.