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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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 Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

John the XXIII and John Paul II will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square on April 27 More

Thailand Reacts to Plots Targeting Israelis

Authorities hope arrest of two Lebanese suspects will disrupt plot to attack young Israeli tourists More

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

'Once Upon a Forest' takes viewers deep into heart of tropical rainforest More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Churchi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 22, 2014 4:14 PM
On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Robotic Mission Kicks Up Lunar Dust

A robotic mission to the moon was deliberately crashed onto the lunar surface late last week, but not before scientists had collected data gathered by the spacecraft which was designed to self-destruct. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports on the preliminary findings of the craft, called LADEE - an acronym for Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer.
Video

Video Boko Haram Claims Responsibility for Bombing in Nigerian Capital

The Nigerian militant group known as Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for a bombing in the capital on April 14th that killed 75 people. In the video message, Abubakar Shekau, the man who says he ordered the bombing, says nothing about the mass abduction of more than 100 teenage girls, most of whom are still missing. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Abuja.
Video

Video Ukraine Developments Hang Over Obama Trip to Asia

President Barack Obama's trip to Asia this week comes as concerns over Beijing's territorial ambitions are growing in the region. Those concerns have been compounded by Russia's recent actions in Ukraine and the possibility that Chinese strategists might be looking to Crimea as a model for its territorial disputes with its neighbors. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid