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

    Video Russia's Expat Community Shrinking

    Russia's troubled economy, tensions with West have led hundreds of thousands of foreigners to leave for better opportunities

    Accelerating the Push Against Islamic State: What Will Work?

    Experts stress need to step up military action, address root causes of Muslims' disaffection, counter IS social media messages in a massive way

    Experts: N. Korean Abductions Sought to Halt Brain Drain

    Pyongyang abducted about 3,800 South Koreans and more than a dozen Japanese nationals in late 1970s

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.