RESPONDING TO DROUGHT: COMMON THREADS FROM THE PAST, VISIONS FOR THE FUTURE1

Authors

  • Donald A. Wilhite

    1. Professor and Director, National Drought Mitigation Center, University of Nebraska, Department of Agricultural Meteorology, 241 LW. Chase Hall, Lincoln, Nebraska 68583–0749.
    Search for more papers by this author

  • 1

    Paper No. 96175 of the Journal of the American Water Resources Association (formerly Water Resources Bulletin). Discussions are open until June 1, 1998. (Published as Paper No. 11786, Journal Series, Nebraska Agricultural Research Division. The work reported here was conducted under Nebraska Agricultural Research Division Project 27–007.)

Abstract

ABSTRACT: A number of studies conducted since the late 1970s have evaluated state and federal responses to drought in the United States. Each of these studies identified a number of key issues and impediments that needed to be addressed to improve the nation's ability to cope with and prepare for future episodes of drought. A content analysis of these studies was performed to identify common threads in their recommendations. The premise of this analysis was that the series of drought years that occurred between 1986 and 1992 and recurred between 1994 and 1996 increased awareness of our nation's continuing and apparent growing vulnerability to drought. This awareness has led to greater consensus among principal constituents and stakeholders, and also a greater sense of urgency to implement actions now to lessen vulnerability. The results of this analysis revealed that several themes recur: create an integrated national drought policy and plan; develop an integrated national climate monitoring (drought watch) system; incorporate drought in FEMA's National Mitigation Strategy; conduct post-drought audits of response efforts; establish regional drought forums; and encourage development of state drought mitigation plans.

Ancillary