V

10% (most extreme) 10 to 25% (extreme) ■ below 25% (least extreme)

Fig. 24.5. ^e coping capacity of Australian broadacre farms using a combined measures of human, social, natural, physical and financial capital (a, left) and exposure of Australian broad-acres farms to climate risk using a measure of extreme pasture growth conditions (b, right; after Nelson et al.2005).

drought risk management. Mainstreaming involves developing risk management tools and approaches within the context of overall rural livelihood strategies, integrating risk arising from markets, management skill and threats to the natural resource base. It also involves communicating risk management knowledge through functional, existing communication networks of farmers and other landholders, rather than pursuing specific communication programs. Although some small steps have been taken in this direction, this has in most cases not yet advanced beyond the proof-of-concept stage (Nelson and Kokic 2006).

tte degree to which central government assistance is provided can depend to an extent on the effectiveness of local farming lobby groups or local government bodies in persuading central government of the need for assistance. In this respect, it is difficult to ascertain the extent to which central government's resolve to restrict drought relief to the exclusively severe events will hold in the future, especially in respect to the potential for changing climatic patterns under greenhouse induced climate change. In fact, in Australia and New Zealand central government policy goals for a reduction in drought relief have occasionally been undermined as a result of various economic factors and political processes (Stehlik et al. 1999; Hay-lock and Ericksen 2001).

In southern Africa, Wilhite (2005) notes that one of the common problems with drought planning is maintaining interest beyond the relatively short window of opportunity that follows the event, 'given the on-again, off-again nature of drought'. Indeed we have noted that government interest in developing drought research and development programs, drought planning programs, and other associated issues can wane almost immediately when it starts raining, irrespective of whether the rains have provided the type of moisture levels to ensure a return to improved grazing, cropping, or water resource conditions, ttis may be due to what Wilhite (2005) considers to be a problem related to governmental agencies trying to cope with the 'mysterious processes' of effective drought planning that in our view are made more complex because of all the associated complexities of dealing with emotional and stressful situations of the farmers, issues related to compiling accurate economic data for regional or industry losses, issues related to dealing with stress situations faced by departmental staff who are working with drought affected families, and issues related to needing to continually work effectively with rural industry lobby groups who are also being pressured to provide immediate response to their constituents (also Stehlik et al. 1999). It is no surprise, therefore, that interest in undertaking further planning beyond the critical core drought period and its immediate aftermath can quickly wane, ttis appears to be especially the case in those countries where drought is regarded as a completely unforeseen type of event that could be prepared for. Remarkably, while farmers may treat both normal and reduced rainfall due to drought as an integral part of climatic variation and manage the situation in a holistic manner, public policy implementers in many countries perceive drought as a discrete and unexpected event (Bruins 2001; Haylock and Ericksen 2001; Subbiah 2001; Wilhite et al. 2005).

Meinke et al. (2006) point out that drought should be regarded as a social construct and represents the risk that agricultural activity will be severely disrupted given spatial and temporal variations in rainfall, tte basic philosophy of the Australian Government's drought policy is to encourage primary producers to adopt self-reliant approaches in managing the risks associated with climate variability. Australian drought policy recognises that producers are responsible for managing the commercial performance of their enterprise and for ensuring that agricultural activity is carried out in an economically and environmentally sustainable manner (Botterill 2003). tte concept also recognises that the Australian Government should not inhibit the natural course of structural adjustment due to other pressures such as declining commodity prices (White and Karssies 1999; Botterill 2003).

In arid, semi-arid, and marginal areas with a probability of drought incidence it is important for those responsible for land-use planning and agricultural programs to seek expert climatological advice regarding rainfall expectations. Drought can also be regarded as being the result of the interaction of human patterns of land use and the rainfall regimes (Das 2005). ttere is therefore an urgent need for detailed examination of rainfall records (including trends) related to these regions. Additionally, climate and weather forecasting systems can play a very important role in providing advance warning of rainfall likelihood or deficits (Das 2005). More sophisticated integrated crop production/climate forecasting systems can also provide scenario analysis of likely crop production under varying soil moisture and likely climatic states for the forthcoming season (Stone and Meinke 2005). While at this stage there maybe limited uptake of these more recent advances in forecasting systems, there are a few examples where they form a necessary component of drought contingency plans within overall drought policy (e.g. Queensland Government 1992).

As a preparedness strategy, food reserves are needed to meet emergency requirements of up to two consecutive droughts. Also a variety of policy decisions on farming, human migration, population dynamics, livestock survival, and ecology must be formulated. Furthermore, sustainable strategies must be developed to alleviate the impact of drought on crop productivity, ttis maybe achieved through varietal manipulation, that can also be facilitated through judicious use of seasonal climate forecasts, through which drought effects can be minimized by adopting varieties that are more drought resistant at different growth stages. Alternatively, strategies that include changing planting times and nitrogen fertilizer application to better suit the likely drought conditions can be employed (Das 1999, 2005; Stone and Meinke 2005, 2006).

However, Podesta et al. (2002), in their case study of farmer's use of climate forecasts in Argentina as a means of drought preparedness, found a reluctance to use seasonal forecasts for drought preparedness because the temporal and spatial resolution of the forecasts was perceived as not relevant to local conditions (Buizer et al. 2000). ttese types of issues must be taken into account in order to improve the relevance and potential adoption of seasonal climate or crop forecasts in drought preparedness. For example, for effective management systems tobe put into place, integrated climate-crop modeling systems need to be developed at the appropriate farm or regional scale suitable for the decision-makers needs (Meinke and Stone 2005).

Challinor et al. (2003) also make the point that reliable forecast output for drought preparedness will not result from simply linking climate and crop models. In this respect, they suggest consideration should be given to the spatial and tem poral scales on which the models operate, the relative strengths and weaknesses of the individual models, and the nature and accuracy of the model predictions. A key aspect of this approach is that on longer timescales, process-based forecasting has the potential to provide skilful forecasts for possible future climates where empirical methods would not necessarily be expected to perform well.

Another preparedness strategy may include identifying the potential to harvest other types of crops in different months of the year which, in turn, may require the assessment of the suitability of land for cultivation of other crops, the availability of water, and the orientation and training of farmers to harvest new crops, ttis preparedness approach may help mitigate the effects of failure of the main crop on farming families (Das 2005).

Continuing issues are related to determining more precisely what the precise trigger points should be that would indicate a need for government assistance in some countries. For example, it is well known that certain meteorological criteria usually need to be met although these have generally been made more stringent in recent years. However, some countries have introduced criteria related to a region's economy. Yet, while such criteria, such as the need to establish 'significant' financial loss during a drought is a stated aim of national drought relief policies, in practice it has proved difficult to determine the degree and type of regional economic impact that would then be used as a threshold. In addition, in practice it has proved difficult for agencies to provide lengthy economic data to support their claims for assistance as a one in twenty or one in fifty year event (Stehlik et al. 1999; Haylock and Ericksen 2001).

In the case of establishing triggering levels there is a need to know drought demands, demands with mitigation actions in place, the drought inflows into storage systems (includes knowledge of worst historical drought, use of drought modelling systems to develop likely return intervals), the timing necessary to achieve the objective of drought mitigation plans (especially lead times), and the need to know the worst case scenario of supply such as reaching the 'dead storage capacity' of a reservoir. For multiple storages it is necessary to set up multiple trigger levels for each of the storages, ttere is an additional need to establish least-cost planning where it is necessary to undertake a detailed assessment of the cost of various measures and their impacts on the environment. It is necessary to ask users what their demands will be and which of these do the water authorities need to meet with 100% reliability or those with less reliability, tte user then determines what they are willing to pay for based on the costs involved, ttis type of contingency planning maybe a detailed and lengthy process (Macy 1993).

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