Introduction

"Contingency Planning - a plan designed to take account of a possible future event or circumstances" (Australian Oxford Dictionary).

Contingency planning provides an important component in improving measures to reduce the impacts of climate variability on crop production and other agricultural production systems. In particular, ways must be found to avoid, reduce, or cope with climatic risk. In some of the drought-prone areas around the world, contingency planning is used by governments as an effective strategy to cope with risks.

Past attempts to manage droughts and its impacts through a reactive, crisis management approach, have been ineffective, poorly coordinated, and untimely, tte so-called 'hydro-illogical cycle' illustrates this issue (Wilhite 2005). Because of the ineffectiveness of the crisis management approach there has been increasing interest in the adoption of a more proactive risk-based management approach. An interesting aspect is that these actions are partly due to the apparently more recent occurrence of drought episodes or of more severe droughts in some instances. Additionally, there may be little respite to allow recovery plans to take effect between more frequent drought episodes, tte potential for increased frequency of drought in the future, possibly as a result of long-term climate change, has also caused greater anxiety about the absence of drought preparation plans (Wilhite 2005).

However, contingency planning for agrometeorological purposes is not necessarily receiving high attention in scientific literature, despite the fact that there is a trend towards the need to improve drought preparedness and policy development worldwide, ttis is needed to alleviate the increasing costs or impacts associated with drought, to manage the complexity of impacts on sectors well beyond agriculture, to alleviate increasing social and environmental effects, and to better manage increasing water conflicts between users. Another factor that may be responsible for constraint in drought preparedness has been the dearth of methodologies available to planners to guide them through the planning process. Drought differs in its characteristics between climate regimes and drought impacts are more locally defined by unique economic, social, and environmental characteristics, tte aim of this paper is to provide examples of recent case studies and approaches to contingency planning with a particular emphasis on drought contingency planning as a means of furthering its use in government and agricultural industry world-wide.

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