Integrate Drought Plans or Face Disaster, U.N. Warns

Although U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack refuses to link drought and climate change, Secretary-General Michel Jarraud of the United Nations World Meteorological Organization (WMO) warns:

Climate change is projected to increase the frequency, intensity, and duration of droughts, with impacts on many sectors, in particular food, water, and energy. We need to move away from a piecemeal, crisis-driven approach and develop integrated risk-based national drought policies.

WMO has joined with the U.N. Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and other U.N. partners to warn global leaders that an inter-connected world needs integrated drought planning rather than the current piecemeal approach.

Drought in the U.S. and parts of Canada has destroyed grain crops and wiped out hay production. The National Climatic Data Center is calling it the worst drought since 1956, affecting 62.9 percent of the contiguous U.S.

In Africa, Michael Zamba describes a drive across drought-stricken regions of Mauritania where he witnessed a stark and barren landscape:

[T]he desert is punctuated by slowly decaying animal carcasses among the thorn trees and leafless baobabs. Each carcass represents a piece of the calamity for rural communities in this West African nation, which depend on livestock to generate income.

Meanwhile, England is losing its reputation as a water-logged country. Several years of dry winters have emptied rivers and lowered water flow. Sarah Vrba wrote in April:

The vast majority of England has been recently classified as experiencing official drought conditions, according to The Guardian. This means that water supply companies can choose to apply restrictions on residential and business water usage.

The list goes on. India, Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia and Mexico are all suffering significant drought. While fields burn, crops wither, livestock suffer, and water sources shrink, government and business leaders continue to focus on self-interest, concentrating more on elections and profits than the fate of the planet.

In an attempt to form consensus on drought action that will cut across political jurisdictions, WMO, UNCDD and other U.N. partners are planning a High-Level Meeting on National Drought Policy for March 11-15, 2013. Whether the meeting in Geneva will be more successful than previous attempts at creating consensus around critical issues is yet to be seen.

What is certain is that without a willingness to embrace coordinated action, we are all on the same train, pulled by an engine headed toward a cliff. The time for playing the you-first game has long passed.

Related Care2 Stories

No Feed! Ranchers Face Drought Disaster

U.S. in Worst Drought Since 1956

Agriculture Secretary Refuses to Link Drought and Climate Change

Finding Solutions to Fight Malnutrition and Drought in West Africa

Drought Conditions Predicted to Continue in England

Photo of Horn of Africa drought via Wikimedia Commons


anne r.
Tom R5 years ago

I dont understand why the U.S. doesnt integrate drought plans. Why not. Change is needed immediately or face the consequences for so many suffering already

Debbie Butz
Debbie Butz5 years ago

Hello...are you gonna wake up?

Jan H.
Jan H.5 years ago

I spoke I would retain from posting for a while but had to offer you my congrats for your words of wisdom Anna! There is one problem with it though as with every other words of Wisdom in here! The lack of actions! Everyone should go out right now (IMMEDIATELY)and purchase indigenous food producing trees and plant them in there yard as I have continually maintained to do! Any space not used towards this purpose is space wasted! Also consider food producing plants that one may sustain our wildlife and just maybe if everyone starts to do this immediately or s they speak in military terms (ASAP) there may be some ray of hope!!!!!! yet but do it now!

Rachael H.
Rachael H5 years ago

I think the problem is the farmers. Concerned with their profits and not the welfare of the animals that give them an income. They should be locked up in jail for allowing animals to dye in such a prolonged and cruel way. Or else do the right thing and move the animals to greener pastures, even if it meant halving their end profits, for the animals to live. Better than nothing and mass death.

Rosie Jolliffe
Rosie Lopez5 years ago

time to wake up! you think!

Rhonda Bird
Rhonda B5 years ago

Thank you!

Jan H.
Jan H.5 years ago

Barb the ones who can't be bought fear the God of our fathers first and foremost but as I have spoken before ones previous elections and choices have sealed the words of the Prophets therefore I am limited as well.

Phillipa W.
Phillipa W5 years ago

I don't think the problem is piecemeal action, it's more that there's no action

Marie W.
Marie W5 years ago


Shelly Peterson
Shelly Peterson5 years ago

VOTE OBAMA 2012, NOT ROMNEY....the Republicans deny climate change.