Leading Drought Experts Launch HelpDesk for Drought-Impacted Populations

  • 2017/09/19     Geneva, Switzerland

    Image: WMO

    Water insecurity costs the global economy roughly US$ 500 billion annually and causes the death and displacement of more people than cyclones, floods and earthquakes combined. In particularly vulnerable economies, a 50% reduction in drought effects could lead to a 20% increase in per capita GDP over a period of 30 years. Therefore, mechanisms to enhance integrated drought management are more critical than ever. (see the report of the GWP/OECD Task Force on Water Security and Sustainable Growth)

    As part of an ongoing drive to promote more proactive policies to deal with this major natural hazard, the World Meteorological Organization and Global Water Partnership have joined with other partners to launch an online HelpDesk for the Integrated Drought Management Programme (IDMP) designed to provide tailored guidance to drought-impacted populations around the world. UNU-FLORES is one of the IDMP partner organisations.

    The HelpDesk is in line with the mission of IDMP to provide stakeholders with policy guidance, scientific information, and best practices for integrated drought management. With its “Ask” function and “Find” function, the HelpDesk enables stakeholders to contact experts directly for advice and access extensive collections of drought management knowledge.

    “The HelpDesk is designed to build drought resilience and mitigate droughts by reducing vulnerabilities and increasing coping capacities,” says Petteri Taalas, Secretary-General of WMO.

    IDMP’s co-sponsors, the World Meteorological Organization and the Global Water Partnership and over 10 IDMP partner organisations, each with diverse expertise in drought management, have agreed to respond to HelpDesk inquiries. Government officials, civil society organisations, meteorologists, academics, and private sector professionals facing drought-related issues are encouraged to use the request function located on the IDMP webpage. Specific requests are then vetted to the IDMP partner organisation best equipped to provide a tailored response.

    As a think tank applying a Nexus Approach to develop and evaluate resource management strategies, UNU-FLORES, in particular, seeks to support the HelpDesk by promoting standard approaches to vulnerability and impact assessment, enhancing preparedness and mitigation actions, and understanding the cost of inaction and benefit of action.

    “It is key to get the knowledge and expertise to decision makers and practitioners on the ground and we are always exploring new ways to make drought management more accessible to key stakeholders,” says Oyun Sanjaasuren, Chair of the Global Water Partnership. “The Integrated Drought Management HelpDesk is a one-stop-shop for stakeholders to gain expert drought guidance specific to their region and situation.”

    The new HelpDesk was launched on the first day of the annual meeting of the IDMP Advisory and Management Committee, the Programme’s governing bodies. The launch coincides with the 13th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, taking place in Ordos, Inner Mongolia, from 6 to 16 September. It is based on the successful model of the Integrated Flood Management HelpDesk.

    About the Integrated Drought Management Programme (IDMP)

    In 2013, WMO and GWP jointly launched the Integrated Drought Management Programme (IDMP). IDMP aims to support stakeholders at all levels by providing policy and management guidance and by sharing scientific information, knowledge, and best practices for integrated drought management.

    The Programme contributes to the global coordination of drought-related efforts of existing organisations and agencies with regard to better scientific understanding of drought management, drought risk assessment, monitoring, prediction and early warning, policy and planning for drought preparedness and mitigation, and drought risk reduction and response.

    About the World Meteorological Organization (WMO)

    The World Meteorological Organization (WMO), founded in 1950, is a specialised agency of the United Nations for weather, climate, and water. WMO is dedicated to international cooperation and coordination on the state and behaviour of the Earth’s atmosphere, its interaction with the land and oceans, the weather and climate it produces, and the resulting distribution of water resources.

    Through its Technical Commission, Programmes, and Regional Offices as well as by synergistic partnerships, WMO facilitates the maintenance and expansion of its Members’ atmospheric, oceanographic, and land-based observational networks; the free unrestricted exchange of the resulting data and information; and related capacity development and research in order to optimise the production of weather, climate, and water-related services worldwide.

    About Global Water Partnership (GWP)

    The Global Water Partnership (GWP) is a global action network with over 3,000 partner organisations in 183 countries. The network has 86 Country Water Partnerships and 13 Regional Water Partnerships.

    The network is open to all organisations involved in water resources management: developed and developing country government institutions, agencies of the United Nations, bi- and multilateral development banks, professional associations, research institutions, non-governmental organisations, and the private sector.

    GWP’s action network provides knowledge and builds capacity to improve water management at all levels: global, national, and local. GWP does not operate alone. Its networking approach provides a mechanism for coordinated action and adds value to the work of many other key development partners.

    This article has been republished with some modifications. Read the original version by WMO here.