World Meteorological Organization (WMO)
Geneva – International experts from National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs), climate and agricultural research institutes, universities and policy agencies are participating in the Expert Meeting on the Preparation of a Compendium on National Drought Policy at the George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia (USA), from 14 to 15 July 2011. The meeting is being organized by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the George Mason University’s College of Science (COS), the US National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
With reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stating that the world has been more drought-prone during the past 25 years and that climate projections indicate an increased frequency of droughts in the future, a national drought policy is necessary.
“Drought is a serious problem in many countries. Without a coordinated, national drought policy that includes elements such as effective monitoring and early warning systems to deliver timely information to decision makers; effective impact assessment procedures; pro-active risk management measures; preparedness plans aimed at increasing the coping capacity; and effective emergency response programs directed at reducing the impacts of drought; nations will continue to respond to drought in a reactive, crisis management mode”, said, Mr Michel Jarraud, Secretary-General of the WMO. "Our ability to lessen or mitigate the impacts associated with drought is contingent on putting in place comprehensive national drought policies. This expert meeting is an excellent first step in preparing a Compendium on National Drought Policy.”
Currently East Africa is enduring its worst drought in 60 years. Ten million people are at risk after the worst drought in decades hit large areas of Somalia, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Kenya. A severe drought along the Yangtze River region in central China has left 315,000 people short of drinking water, and more than two million acres of farmland has been affected. This past October through May in Texas, USA, was the driest eight-month stretch the state has experienced in its modern history, and the impact on agriculture is approaching $1.5 billion.
Participants from George Mason University include Dr Roger R. Stough, vice president for research and economic development, and College of Science faculty, Dr John J. Qu and Prof. Thomas Lovejoy.
"George Mason University recognizes the urgency of this international expert meeting and has a long-standing tradition of promoting science-based knowledge and actions to addressclimate-related issues," said Dr Roger Stough. "We encourage institutions to proactively develop drought risk management plans and create 'global centres of excellence' in the fields of agricultural meteorology and climatology. This is just one of the global research and education initiatives George Mason University is undertaking to build depth and breadth in its efforts to internationalize the university's approach and to broaden the participation of its faculty and students in global leadership projects."
For more information, please contact:
Carine Richard-Van Maele, Chief, Communications and Public Affairs, Tel: +(41 22) 730 8315;
Dr Mannava V.K. Sivakumar, Director, Climate Prediction and Adaptation Branch (CLPA), Climate and Water Department (CLW), Tel: +41 79 51 482 51.