News / Europe

UN Urges Countries to Develop National Drought Policies

U.S. President Barack Obama (R) walks around the McIntosh family farm with the owners to view drought-ridden corn fields in Missouri Valley, Iowa, August 13, 2012.
U.S. President Barack Obama (R) walks around the McIntosh family farm with the owners to view drought-ridden corn fields in Missouri Valley, Iowa, August 13, 2012.
Lisa Schlein
GENEVA — The World Meteorological Organization warns that climate change is projected to increase the frequency, intensity, and duration of droughts. The U.N. agency said stronger national drought policies are urgently needed to lessen the devastating impacts of this recurring natural disaster.

Several regions of the world are experiencing severe drought. The United States is in the grips of one of the worst in more than a century.

World Meteorological Organization Climate Prediction and Adaptation Branch Director Mannava Sivakumar said one-quarter of the United States is experiencing exceptional drought, devastating crops and livestock.

“Currently, as of end of June, the United States has faced the longest 12-month period that it has been facing drought in the history of climatic records in the U.S. that go back to 1895," said Sivakumar.

"And, of course one of the major issues is that the forecast for the maize crop is cut by almost 27 percent ... That, of course has got a major consequence of the maize exports that the United States carries out to different parts of the world,” Sivakumar added.

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization reports food prices have climbed by six percent because of drought, ethanol production and high fuel costs, and are likely to go higher if drought continues.

The International Food Policy Research Institute and the United Nations are calling for the United States to end its bio-fuel program. They said this policy uses 40 percent of U.S. corn output and is creating food shortages and price hikes world wide.

Indian children wash their hands in a partially dried-out natural pond at Badarganj village, in the western state of Gujarat, August 5, 2012.Indian children wash their hands in a partially dried-out natural pond at Badarganj village, in the western state of Gujarat, August 5, 2012.
x
Indian children wash their hands in a partially dried-out natural pond at Badarganj village, in the western state of Gujarat, August 5, 2012.
Indian children wash their hands in a partially dried-out natural pond at Badarganj village, in the western state of Gujarat, August 5, 2012.
India also is going through a serious drought, with rainfall in 70 percent of the country 70 percent below normal, and the United Nations predicts a profound impact on food production.

Brazil, Mexico, Australia and parts of Europe also are suffering, but data from Africa show drought this year is not as serious as in other parts of the world.  

The World Meteorological Organization and other U.N. agencies are stepping up efforts to develop more coordinated and proactive policies for managing drought risk.

Mannava Sivakumar said it is urgent for countries to develop national drought policies that are legally binding. He said only one country, Australia, has a national policy.

“What is the difference between a plan and a policy? Plans and their implementation depend very much upon which political party is in power," said Sivakumar. "Some parties may take the plan very seriously and implement it to the word. Other parties may, say, just put the plan aside and give priority to some other issues that the party feels is important. But, a policy, irrespective of which party is in power, you are bound by what is written in the policy and they are legally bound to implement.”

Sivakumar said governments should first do a vulnerability and impact assessment of a drought disaster, then create a monitoring and early warning system, followed by relief measures once the drought is underway.

The measures, he said, may include government subsidies, tax relief to affected communities, and drought insurance.

You May Like

FIFA Indictments Put Gold Cup Tournament Under Cloud

Experts say US indictments could lead to charges of other world soccer officials, and lead to major shakeup in sport's governance More

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

At a recent even in Seoul, border communities promoted benefits of increased cooperation and North Korean defectors shared stories of life since the war More

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Persian service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs