Fidest – Agenzia giornalistica/press agency

Quotidiano di informazione – Anno 30 n° 315

Substantial changes are needed to address drought in the Near East and North Africa region

Posted by fidest press agency su martedì, 19 giugno 2018

FAO has called for a marked change in the way drought is perceived and managed in the region of the Middle East and North Africa. In a new report published today we read that a more proactive approach based on the principles of risk reduction is needed to build greater resistance to drought.Although drought is a family phenomenon in the region, over the past four decades, it has become more widespread, prolonged and frequent, most likely due to climate change.
The region is not only particularly prone to drought, but is also one of the poorest areas of water in the world, with the desert making up three quarters of its territory.The technical, administrative and financial capabilities of the Near East and North Africa to deal with drought are inadequate and make farmers and shepherds – the first and most affected by drought – even more vulnerable.Farmers and shepherds face increasing challenges when water becomes scarcer, the most degraded and eroded land and the most fragile land.However, too much attention is being paid to recovering from drought rather than being less exposed to it, with insufficient funding, little preparation and poor coordination, which remain enormous limits to overcome, the report warns.”We need to perceive and manage drought differently and move from responding to emergencies to a more proactive policy and long-term planning to reduce risks and create more resilience,” said Rene Castro, Assistant Director-General of FAO, of the Department of Climate, Biodiversity, Earth and Water.”The report assesses gaps in current drought management and provides a solid foundation for helping governments to rethink policies and reformulate preparedness and response plans by offering solutions that take into account the specific context of each country,” added Castro.Launched for World Day to combat desertification and drought, the report was developed by the FAO and the Water for Food Daugherty Global Institute of the University of Nebraska.It covers 20 countries in the region: Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.Although preventing or mitigating the impact of drought may be cheaper than providing relief, this has not necessarily resulted in planning actions, budget allocations and changes in institutional behavior.Providing emergency food assistance, access to water, fodder and job creation are the most common approaches adopted by the governments of the region to support populations affected by drought.It is true that they are essential interventions to save lives and alleviate hunger, but they have different limitations as they do not help vulnerable populations to become more resistant to future shocks.Many countries do not have specific drought-specific structures and action plans.When planning against drought, coordination at the highest levels of government must also be strengthened.Current agricultural policies are making the earth more degraded and impoverished, and must be re-examined to mitigate the impact of drought.
The report argues that it is essential to develop and implement national drought management policies that are consistent with the development goals of the countries and to create early warning systems. It recommends spreading technologies to combat drought and supporting policies and incentives to use land and water resources rationally.Cultivating water scarcity and fast-ripening crops, as well as encouraging advanced irrigation methods (including drip irrigation and spraying) are some of the measures that should be taken on a large scale to combat climate change.Also setting plots of land aside to grow trees in agricultural fields and pastures to ensure their growth is a practice that can generate multipurpose trees to mitigate the impact of drought.Traditional livestock breeding practices – keeping breeding rates low and grazing herds when fodder is low – can reduce the risk of overgrazing and soil degradation. SOURCE Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

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