before or during a drought period?
A reactive approach is based on the implementation of measures
and actions after a drought event has started and is perceived. This approach
is taken in emergency situations and often results in inefficient technical
and economic solutions since actions are taken with little time to evaluate
optimal actions and stakeholder participation is very limited.
A proactive or preventive approach includes
all the measures designed in advance, with appropriate planning tools and
stakeholder participation. The proactive approach is based both on short
term and long term measures and includes monitoring systems for a timely
warning of drought conditions. It can be considered an approach to "manage
risk". A proactive approach consists of planning the necessary measures to
prevent or minimize drought impacts in advance. Such an approach includes
preparedness of planning tools which enable the consequences of a possible
water emergency to be avoided or reduced, as well as the implementation of
such plans when a drought occurs. The proactive approach foresees a continuous
monitoring of hydrometeorological variables and of the status of water reserves
in order to identify possible water crisis situations and to apply the necessary
measures before a real water emergency occurs. Nevertheless, if it is not
possible to avoid a water crisis that appears as a natural public calamity
(after a government declaration), the Drought Contingency Plan is implemented
until the establishment of normal conditions. It is evident that a proactive
approach, even if more complex, is more efficient than the traditional approach,
since it allows drought mitigation measures (both long term and short term)
to be defined in advance, improving the quality of the interventions.
Table 1 summarizes the characteristics of the reactive
and the proactive approaches.
Table 1 Characteristics of the approaches
to drought management
Top of the page
Which institutional aspects
are necessary for an efficient drought management?
The implementation of a proactive approach implies drafting plans in which
the mitigation measures are clearly defined together with the instructions
for their implementation. At this end, a clear assignment of competences
among the different involved institutions appears to be a key issue; therefore
a legislative act which defines the responsibilities is necessary in each
country. Such an act could be part of a national water resources policy and/or
strategy to fight desertification (within the U.N. convention).
No single management action, legislation or policy can
respond to all
the aspects and achieve all goals for the effective drought management. Multiple
collaborative efforts are needed to integrate the multidimensional
effects of drought on society
Other important aspects to take into account are:
- Stakeholders' participation;
- Management and changes in water rights legislation allowing
water exchange during droughts;
- Definition of standards
of efficiency to foster water saving and sanctions for those
who do not respect them.
Top of the page