Vanuatu needs a drought policy: Workshop

The first ever drought workshop highlighted the need for Vanuatu to have a drought policy

Vanuatu needs a drought policy to support national efforts to address impacts and drought preparedness.

This was recommended from the first ever Vanuatu stakeholders drought workshop.

Drought occurs when there is not enough water to meet normal needs, due to long periods of no rainfall. Most droughts are associated with El Niño.

Farmers are usually the first ones to suffer from a drought.Livestock will be affected and harvest will no longer be plentiful to feed family and raise income.

Drought is a slow onset which means it is more dangerous to other weather-related natural disasters like cyclone.

It takes time to stop therefore, its impacts can be accumulated over a long period of time, sometimes over 2-years.

It is predicted that El Niño events will get worst under climate change.

Key sectors such as water, health, tourism, infrastructure, environment, climate including non-government organisations (NGOs) such as Red Cross attended the first drought workshop to share how they are affected by drought on different time scales.

They also deliberated on how they could help communities reduce risk and save lives.

The Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazards Department (VMGD) who facilitated the workshop explained how it is forecasting weather and climate hazards like droughts.

VMGD has a vital role to provide time critical and relevant information to the government, communities and international partners to understand and prepare for weather and climate hazards.

How effective these weather and climate information, tools and products are reaching communities in the last mile was a concern for drought stakeholders.

The Manager of Geo-Hazards Department, Esline Bule, as the Acting Director General of VMGD, stressed the need for Vanuatu to be better prepare for droughts at the opening of the workshop.

The spokesperson of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) coordinating a major project for Vanuatu with funding from the Green Climate Fund gave the good news that the project would help develop the drought policy for Vanuatu if the recommendation gets support from the government.

The drought stakeholders project in Port Vila was also supported by SPREP.

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