Understanding drought and Its management: A case study of India

Event: Asia Pacific Initiative (API)-Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance (DMHA) Training Course, 3rd November 2009, Video Conference between UNU, AIT, and The University of Hawaii
Date: 3rd November 2009

The presentation aims at improving the understanding of drought and its management using a case study of India. The presentation starts with historical background of drought and its impacts in India and dwells into drought response strategies adapted over the years, problems with those strategies and tries to identify a way forward. Drought identification and response in India is historically linked to aridity index calculations in the 36 meteorological sub-divisions. Specific definitions were proposed to identify onset of drought and for initiating quick response. However, there are different drought definitions by different agencies in India that may often lead to confusion at operational levels. India is highly vulnerable to drought historically. This has to do with the seasonal nature of rainfall and its high variability and association with the El Nino phenomenon (through what is recognized as tele connection with Pacific Ocean surface temperature trends). There are 28 drought incidences recorded in the historical records out of which eight were identified to be the most severe. Different meteorological sub-divisions in India are vulnerable to droughts with different frequency of drought return period and Western Rajasthan and parts of Andhra Pradesh has highest frequency of drought return period than rest of the country. India’s drought management can be best named as responsive rather than proactive. Drought is a state subject where individual state governments are expected to prepare and react to drought. However, during severe drought periods, the help of central government is called for. However, often the response from central government suffers from the ‘official delay’ which the government of India claims to have reduced over the years. There are several programs for drought risk mitigation in India and they are mostly centrally driven programs. There is a need for a real-time drought monitoring tool on the lines of USDA Drought Monitor that helps in monitoring various indices related to drought situation. The presentation introduces the concept of drought risk management through drought management cycle and compares it with that of response approach. The presentation also touches upon some drought related impacts of climate change in India and identifies the need for adaptive drought risk reduction.

Refer to additional reading material, supplied along with the presentation, for further understanding on the topic.