Droughts Challenge Water Resource Management and Policy

Droughts are among the world’s worst hazards and pose serious threats and immense challenges to many people, the economy, and the environment. Major droughts are harsh reminders of the great importance of water. This paper gives an overview of the current realities of drought and implications for program and policy formulation. Three main aspects of the current situation are described, including the peculiarities of drought characteristics, changing drought patterns driven by global warming, and links with policy. The nature of drought continues to be elusive and knowledge gaps exist across drought phases (e.g., onset, peak, decline) as well as for drought origins, areas, migrations, and causes. Drought monitoring, prediction, impacts, vulnerability, and adaptation are receiving some attention in research and policy, but efforts must be improved. One of the greatest challenges is integrating policy with drought/climate science. The goal is to reduce negative effects and exploit benefits. Recommendations are organized by three main topics: (i) present and past droughts, (ii) future droughts, and (iii) adaptation. The most significant goal is to address how individuals and society can best adapt to drought and water scarcity.