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Drought characteristics and management in Central Asia and Turkey

REPORT
from Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Published on 31 Jul 2017 View Original
This report assembles information from various sources to analyse the current situation of drought in Central Asian countries for enhancing drought risk management and increasing efforts to develop drought preparedness plans and implement actions to reduce the impact of droughts. It assesses drought vulnerabilities, risk management capacities, and existing policies, institutions and practices in the countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Turkey. Overall, the recommendations made for these Central Asian countries and Turkey include three broad measures:
  • Provide regular, timely hydro-meteorological data to provide early warning
  • Reconcile legal and institutional frameworks
  • Implement and optimise water saving techniques and technologies
Foreword Drought is a normal phenomenon of all climates, with varying characteristics between regions. It materializes in a reduction of precipitation from the long-term average, that extends over a given space scale for a specific period of time and results in impacts. Over the past decades, drought episodes have become more widespread and prolonged in many parts of the world, with increased socio-economic and environmental impacts. More than 80 percent of the damages and losses caused by droughts are to the agriculture sector, affecting livestock and crop production and having severe consequences for food supplies and livelihoods, especially for smallholders and the poorest members of rural societies. Drought is a slow-onset disaster – consecutive seasons of crop failure or livestock losses caused by extended dry spells and poor rains erode coping capacities and undermine livelihoods. However, the traditional response to droughts is short-term provision of humanitarian assistance in the form of food, livestock feed, cash, health and nutrition support, among others. While humanitarian assistance is critical to ensure lives are saved in the immediate term, a paradigm shift is needed to tackle the root causes of vulnerabilities and reduce disaster risks, focusing on building the resilience of their livelihoods to ensure they can cope with extreme climate events, such as droughts in the long term. With this concern in mind, the High-level Meeting on National Drought Management Policy (HMNDP), convened by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Secretariat of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), took place in Geneva, in March 2013, gathering over 430 participants from more than 90 countries, including ministers and senior officials, dignitaries, heads of a number of organizations and agencies, scientists and country delegates. The purpose of the meeting was to initiate a dialogue on the need for such a fundamental shift in the way droughts are perceived and managed and to encourage governments to develop and implement national drought management policies consistent with their development objectives. The Meeting issued a declaration that, among other provisions, urged WMO, FAO and UNCCD Secretariat as well as other concerned parties, to assist governments, especially the developing countries, in the development of National Drought Management Policies and their implementation. The concern about drought impacts is fully embedded into FAO’s Strategic Framework which drives the organization’s activities. Increasing societal resilience to disasters, especially drought which drastically affects rural livelihoods, is one of the five Strategic Objectives constituting FAO priorities, Within the framework of its Strategic Objective to increase the resilience of livelihoods from disasters, FAO joined hands with the Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute of the University of Lincoln-Nebraska, for launching a study on drought characterization and management in drought prone regions of the world. Getting a close picture of both drought characteristics and the way it is managed in different regions is essential for steering the shift from emergency response to more pro-active policy and long-term planning.and for assessing gaps and elaborating the right support to countries to achieve this shift. This reflects the UN’s New Way of Working which enables humanitarian and development actors to support affected people through collective outcomes which reduce risk, need and vulnerability, and contribute to sustainable development. The other goal of the studies is to provide background information, first for designing drought risk management planning guidelines that are tailored for the specific characteristic and needs for each region, and second for the preparation of national and regional projects aimed at implanting pro-active drought management plans. This reports reviews drought issues in the region of Central Asia - in the countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Turkey - which is prone to drought with varying intensity and frequency. This situation is exacerbated in the region by political instability, conflicts and structural characteristics of the economy, with a high rural poor population depending on agriculture and livestock for income and employment generation and weak institutional and policy frameworks, contributing to higher vulnerability. The severe drought that hit the region in 2001 proved this vulnerability. Policy options to tackle drought vary from centralized soviet structures to reformed decentralized frameworks. In most countries there is a system to manage water at basin levels, national drought planning and mitigation strategies and early warning systems; however, all these are improvable. Disaster risk management activities and emergency responses also need to be strengthened in the region according to the report findings. Greater funding, strengthened preparedness planning and coordination among the actors are amongst the factors required to carry out good practices. The report constitutes a basis to rethink policies and reformulate preparedness and response plans that can strengthen resilience to droughts in Central Asia, taking into account the social, economic and environmental contexts specific to each country. We hope that it will help foster the fundamental shift in the way drought is perceived and managed in the region and we reiterate FAO’s continued support to the countries of the region in the development and implementation of drought management policies consistent with their development objectives.
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